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CH 398: Research Proposals for Undergraduate Research

A guide to help you find and cite the research you need for your proposal.

Strategic Exploration

Use these tips to search better and find what you need more efficiently.

While different databases might have slight differences in their use of these terms, the goal is always the same: the more thorough your search string, the more relevant your search results will be, which saves you the time of looking through articles you know you don't want.

Boolean Operators

Terms that connect keywords to make a search more efficient.
AND
Results that include both concept A and concept B

ex: [strawberry AND banana]

NOT
AND NOT
Results of concept A except those that include concept B

ex: [strawberry NOT banana]

Some databases (like Scopus) prefer AND NOT

OR
The results of all of concept A and all of concept B

ex: [strawberry OR banana]

Search Modifiers

Other useful things to use when searching.
Word stems
Wildcard: ?
Midword

ex: wom?n = women, woman

Truncation: *
End of word

ex: [engine*] =
engine, engineer, engineering, engineered (etc.)

Phrase
"Exact phrase"

Also known as "bound phrase". Brings back the term or title within the quotations.

ex: "strawberry smoothie"

Parentheses
(concept A OR concept B) AND concept C

Use parentheses to expand your search string and include more terms.

ex: (strawberry OR banana) AND smoothie