Building a search

  1. Start with just a few broad keywords:
    Example: human AND "gene editing"
  2. If these keywords return a large number of results, you can start adding terms with the boolean AND operator:
    Example: human AND "gene editing" AND controvers*
  3. You can also broaden a search by searching alternate terms, in parentheses, separated by the boolean OR operator.:
    Example: human AND "gene editing" AND (controvers* OR ethic* OR moral*)
  4. There's alot of trial and error in keyword searching, but it can often be a very effective way to search
    Example: human AND "gene editing" AND (controvers* OR ethic* OR moral*) AND inequality

Selected Databases


To find articles in databases, start by combining one or two key words and phrases

Use an asterisk to find variant endings, e.g. ethic* finds ethics or ethical

In some databases, it's helpful to place "quotation marks" around phrases.

In most databases, you can also limit your search results to scholarly, or peer-reviewed, journals.

Narrow your search by adding terms.

There are several ways to broaden a search:

  1. Remove some terms
  2. Include alternative terms in parentheses. Example: (controvers* OR ethic* OR moral*)
  3. Truncate terms to pull up variant endings, e.g. controvers* finds controversy or controversial