What should I search for?
Try to pick out the key terms in your research question and use those. For example, if what you're researching is what role homework plays in teenagers' stress levels, consider searching terms like homework, teenagers, stress, and high school. Resist the temptation to type your whole question into the database; remember, it's going to try to find each word you type in the resources it has, so you want to make sure each word you do enter is very important to your topic.
What do AND and OR do to my search?
AND is used to tell the database to give you more specific results. If you search teenagers AND homework, you'll only get results that contain both of those keywords--not articles that are just about teenagers in general, or articles about homework in general. AND will made your searches smaller.
OR is used to tell the database that the terms you are giving mean basically the same thing. You could use it search for teenager OR adolescent, so that you were making sure you got the most relevant articles on that age group no matter which term was used. OR will make your searches bigger.
Can I combine them?
Yes! Just make sure that when you have an AND and an OR in the same search, you use parentheses around the OR terms. This is so that the database doesn't get confused. It could look like this: (teenager OR adolescent) AND homework; or like this: homework AND (teenager OR adolescent)
The order doesn't matter; just make sure you're careful to put the terms you want linked by OR in parentheses.
What if I want to search a phrase?
That's easy: just put it in quotation marks. So, instead of just typing high school, type "high school" instead. This tells the database that it should look for these words when they are next to each other. In a search, it looks like this: homework AND "high school" AND (teenager OR adolescent)
My search results aren't relevant to my topic.
Try to brainstorm different search terms that you could use, or consider adding another search term or two with AND. For this search, we can try: (teenager OR adolescent) AND homework AND stress
I am getting too few search results, or none at all.
Try a less specific search, removing some of your AND terms. You could also try adding a synonym or two with OR.
Here is a more in-depth guide on the resources available for research in education:
Below, you'll find direct links to three of our education databases. To choose from our complete lists of databases, click here.
Copy or type book titles (below) or keywords to locate books!
Elihu Burritt Library
(access via Harold Lewis Drive)
Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050