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Composing a Search: Try It

Interactive Guide to demonstrate how to compose a search and test it on a sample of library databases.

Search Composer

First carefully refine your research question and enter it into the box.

For more help on writing a research question see First - The Question.

Click the Next - Add Key Terms button when you've entered your question.

Next add up to three Key terms in the three boxes.  The last box is used for terms you don't want included.  These are NOT terms.

For more information on selecting Key Terms see Key Terms.

Click the Next - Add Synonyms button when you've entered your Key Terms.

Now add up to three Synonyms or Related Terms to for each of the Key Terms and the the Exclusion Terms.

For more information on identifying Synonyms see Synonyms.

Click the Next - Add Punctuation button when you've entered your Synonyms.

Then add punctuation such as *'s and "'s to truncate words and keep phrases together.

For more information on adding punctuation see Punctuation.

Click the Next - View Your Search button to see what your terms look like in a properly composed search.

Click on one of the database buttons under your search to open a database.  Select the appropriate search and copy and paste it into the search box in the database.

If you got too many results consider adding more AND or NOT terms to your search.

You may also look at using the search limits in the left hand column in the database.  For example, you might only be interested in results from recent years.

If you got too few results consider removing some AND or NOT terms or adding some more OR terms.

Searching is an iterative process.  Don't be afraid to try assess and modify your search.

Time to Try It

Enter your research question


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