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LibrarySkills@UCL: Searching for information

A guide to search techniques and developing a search strategy for assignments, literature reviews and research.

Constructing a search

If you are carrying out a thorough, comprehensive search, you should keep your search terms on different lines, and combine them together at the end. In many cases you will need to make use of the search history to see previous search lines, and use search operator to combine them together.

Search line Search term
1 "social media" [textword]
2 twitter [textword]
3 facebook [textword]
4 social media [subject heading]
5 1 OR 2 OR 3 OR 4
6 bully* [textword]
7 cyberbull* [textword]
8 harass* [textword]
9 cyberbullying [subject heading]
10 6 OR 7 OR 8 OR 9
11 5 AND 10

Here you can see that the searches for the same concept are combined with OR, and finally the two different concepts have been combined with AND (search line 11).

Build a search from the search history

Here is an example of how a structured search might look in a database.

database search history screen showing lines combined with boolean operators