Searching the Literature

Boolean Operators

Your Toolbox

In your toolbox of resources, consider how broad versus how specific your searches are. Starting with Google or Google Scholar might be more broad than you need, when an article database might be more specific to your needs. On the other hand, you might want to start very broadly if this is your first time searching the topic. Whatever the case may be, consider that you narrow or broaden your search just by adjusting the place you start  your search.

This graphic depicts how broad different searches are, from searches in Google through database searches through searches at the chapter or article level.

Identify Core Concepts and Keywords

It can be helpful to break down your research question into core concepts and keywords, tied together with Boolean Operators.


This graphic shows the breakdown of a research question into its core concepts and keywords.

Develop A Search Strategy

This image depicts a chart in which researchers can track their searches, their relevance, their results, etc.

Download a copy of this research log, or Google "research log" to find examples to customize.