OWL stands for Online Writing Lab located at Purdue University. It is an invaluable resource for college students.
Conjuctions (aka - Boolean Operators) help broaden or narrow your subject when searching
Use double quotations marks to search for an exact phrase (search for those words when they appear together).
· Example: “embryonic stem cell”
Wildcard and Truncation Symbols enable you to search for variations of words
1. Use ? (a question mark) to replace each unknown letter from a word. This symbol is useful if you are unsure of the spelling of a word.
· Example: Typing ne?t will retrieve results containing the words next, neat, or nest.
2. Enter the root of a word followed by * (an asterisk) to find all words with the same root. It can be used to find both the singular and plural forms of a word.
· Example: Typing comput* will retrieve results containing the words computer or computing.
Limiters allow you to narrow the resources you want to search for
Select limiters to narrow your search. Examples of limiters include:
· full text (of abstracts and/or documents)
· publication date
· journal type (peer reviewed)
· material type (book, article, newspaper)
Remember that the more limiters you choose, the fewer results you will get.
Be sure to type the subject word or phrase in separate fields for the best possible return of articles. Example: Type Autism in one field with And from the drop box and Vaccines in the next field.
Keyword vs. subject searching
Keyword searches will bring up articles wherever that word appears in the database (in the articles, subjects, publications, abstracts, authors, etc.).
Subject searches will bring up only articles to which a specific subject (term or phrase) has been assigned; it searches only the subject field.
· Most databases have a subject search option and sometimes a thesaurus to help you find the right terms to use in your search.