Social Work Resource Guide

Search Tips

Brainstorm synonyms for your concept. Different databases use different words for the same concept.  Searching for alternative words improves your chances of success. Elderly or older people

Modify your searches based on your results. If you find articles that reflect your interests, redo your search using words that appear in the title, subject headings, abstract, or full text of that article.

Use the asterisk (*) to find various word endings.  (i.e., home* finds homeless, homelessness, homeless persons)

Subject Searching

When looking for books or articles try to narrow down your subject.

For Example:

  • First search the broad term foster care.
  • The results returned will have the keyword foster care somewhere in the record.
  • Look for the hyperlinked subject terms to lead you to more items with this same subject.
  • The result should be more items on your topic, with less searching.

Additonally, combine terms with AND, OR, NOT example:

  • Foster Care AND Programs
  • Foster Care OR Foster Children
  • Foster Care NOT Residential Care

Search Tips

 Use the Boolean search operators: and, or, not, near.

AND Reduces the number of search results by requiring more than one term to appear in the same article. (i.e., elderly and homeless* and illness)

OR Expands the number of search results by expanding the possible matches to include either one or the other term. (i.e., elderly or older people)

NOT Reduces search results to omit references to articles with certain words that have nothing to do with your topic. (i.e., planning not wedding)

NEAR Reduces the search results by requiring two words to appear near one another in the articles. (i.e., mental near illness)

Put it all together to make a sophisticated search:
(elderly or older people) and homeless* and (mental near illness)

Meriam Library | CSU, Chico