Skip to main content

Basic Research

This guide is intended to help you learn about conducting research.

Search Basics

Combining Keywords


A keyword search looks for items that contain that word or phrase in the title, abstract, description, text, etc. Different writers use different terminology, so be sure to think of synonyms or similar words. If you search for racism, you won't get papers that use the term stereotype‚Äč instead. To search for both terms, you can use the OR boolean: racism OR stereotype.

What are Booleans?

Booleans are words that are used to connect search terms-

  • OR will broaden your search by searching for items with either term: racism OR stereotype will retrieve papers that have at least one of the words.

  • AND will narrow your results by only searching for items that contain both terms: racism AND sports mascots will only retrieve papers that include both words in the text.

  • NOT will narrow your search by excluding results that contain that term: racism AND sports mascots NOT college will retrieve papers that discuss leadership but not management.

Try it out!

1. Test your knowledge of Booleans with this interactive tutorial:

2. Then try a search with your terms using Booleans to connect them together. 

Use the search boxes on this page to search in Articles+ and/or Google Scholar. Look at the number of results that you get- e.g. do you get fewer results when you use AND? More when you use OR?


What next?

Keyword searching is the most common way to search, but it's not the only way. Take a look at the next page to learn about subject headings and how they can help you find articles, especially when you are having a hard time coming up with good keywords.


Google Scholar

From off campus, customize Google Scholar Library Links under Settings to include Humboldt State University Library - FindIt@HSU.