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Information for projects: 4. Searching for stuff

A problem or topic based guide to help you with your academic assignments from start to finish

Library jargon

Academic libraries use a lot of strange language jargon and there may be words and terms that are unfamiliar to you.

Lucky for you, we have a Library language and jargon webpage with a list of definitions to some very strange words!

Search techniques

Phrase searching:"barrier reef" will look for the whole phrase and not just the individual words.

Use truncation (*): conserv* finds conservation, conservationist, conserving...

Wild card symbols (?)replace a single letter - useful to retrieve alternative spellings and simple plurals:  wom?n will find woman or women

Use AND, OR and NOT to make connections: "barrier reef" AND conserv* OR preservation

These techniques will work in most databases and also in search engines.  But check online help screens in the search engine or database that you are using.

Combining all of your keywords together using the search techniques above is called developing a search strategy.  The list of words is called a 'search string'.

Do this

Imagine that you have been given one of the following assignment titles and you need to find research information to support your writing (or use your own assignment title):

'The impact of renewable energy technologies on industry'


'The causes of obesity in teenagers'

Write down the keywords that you would search with for this assignment and identify which search techniques shown above you could use to develop your search string. 

Searching checklist

Searching checklist image

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