Reference

An online reference section for the Marriott Library.

Search Strategies

Boolean Operators are used to connect and define the relationship between your search terms.  When searching electronic databases, you can use Boolean Operators to either broaden or narrow your search results.  The three Boolean Operators are AND, OR and NOT.


Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are simple words (AND, OR and NOT) used as conjunctions to combine or exclude keywords in a search, resulting in more focused search results.

venn diagram with "teenagers" in the left circle, "adolescents" in the right circle, and "OR" in their overlap.  All circles and overlap are colored purple.

OR

  • Broadens or expands your search
  • Is used to retrieve like terms or synonyms
  • Finds all items with either teenager OR adolescent
  • In set theory and math, "union" is inclusive "OR".
    "OR" = teenager U adolescent

Venn diagram with the left circle "diet" overlapping with the right circle "children".  The overlap says "and".  The venn diagram is white except for it's overlap "and" which is purple.

AND

  • Narrows or limits your search
  • Used to retrieve unrelated terms
  • Finds items with both diet and children
  • In set theory and math, "intersection" is "AND".
    "AND" = diet children

Venn diagram with the left circle saying "spider", the right circle saying "monkey", their overlap says "not".  The left circle that says "spider" is purple, but the right circle and overlap are white.

NOT

  • Narrows or limits your search
  • Finds the term "spider" not "monkey"
  • Use the NOT operator with caution
  • May eliminate relevant records

Note:
AND is the default or implied operator in Usearch, Google, Scopus, PubMed, EBSCOhost, and most search interfaces. 
"ecotourism sustainable" is the same as "ecotourism AND sustainable"

In Usearch, EBSCOhost, SCOPUS, and PubMed, Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) must be entered in upper case.


Phrase Searching

Phrase searching is using quotations.

For instance:

"international olympic committee"
"Utah tennis"

It finds the exact phrase, and items with words in the order typed.  One exception is Scopus.  Scopus uses curly brackets or braces for {exact phrase} searching.  In Scopus, quotes are used for "loose/approximate phrase" searching.


Truncation Stemming

Truncation or stemming is using an asterisk *.  It is also known as a wildcard.  Truncation is a symbol that retrieves all the suffixes or endings of a word.

For instance:

school*             retrieves school, schools, schooling, schooled, etc.
latin*                 retrieves latina, latino, latinx, latinos, latinas, latin, latinization, etc.

Note:
In the Library of Congress, % (percent sign) is a single character wildcard and ? (question mark) is truncation for multiple characters.


Nesting

Nesting is commonly used when combining more than one Boolean operator (OR, AND).  Most search interfaces search left to right.  Using parentheses in a search changes the order of operation.

For instance:

(moral* OR ethic*) AND (assisted suicide OR euthanasia)
(ski OR skis OR skiing OR snowboard*) AND video*

Proximity or Adjacency Operators

Proximity operators allow you to find one word within a certain distance of another.

With (w), Near (n), Next (n), or Pre (p) are common proximity operators.

Note:
Read the database help to see if proximity operators can be used in your searches.


Thanks to Alfred Mowdood for authoring these instructions.

Citation Managers

There are four common citation managers: EndNote, NoodleTools, Zotero and Mendeley

EndNote, EndNote Basic, and Zotero are bibliographic management programs that help you manage, store, and organize references.

EndNote remains the favored, time-saving solution for organizing references and creating instant bibliographies.

  • Significant learning curve
  • If you are a scholar or aspiring scholar you should invest the time now in order to save time and headaches later
  • You may purchase Endnote X.7 from the Office of Software Licensing (You may want to use both EndNote  and EndNote Basic)
  • See EndNote Desktop guide

EndNote Basic (formerly known as EndNote Web) is free for U of U students, staff, and faculty.

NoodleTools is free for U of U students, staff, and faculty.

  • Easy to Use
  • Undergraduate student focus
  • Self-guided tool that teaches how to properly document sources in MLA, APA or Chicago/Turabian
  • Produces a fully formatted Works Cited/References page
  • See NoodleTools User Guide

Zotero

  • Freely available
  • Easy to import citations from Usearch, many library databases, and many websites
  • Can import dozens of citations at a time from Google Scholar
  • Compatible with EndNote Basic and Mendeley
  • See Zotero guide

Mendeley

  • Freely available
  • Can import citations from many library databases and webpages
  • Can share citations through groups feature
  • See Mendeley guide
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