Women's and Gender Studies: Search Strategy

Library resources for research and study in Women's Studies


  • Video Tutorials (The Power of AND and OR in Research Databases, Get Full Text for an Article, and more)

Search Strategy & Tips

  1. State your topic or research question in your own words.
  2. Identify the most important keywords (usually the nouns) or short, commonly used phrases.
  3. Think of variations (singular, plural) and synonyms for your terms. It may help to check Thesaurus.com.
  4. Create an initial search statement using connectors or logical operators (especially AND, OR) and, if appropriate, wildcards.
  5. Try it out in one or more databases and/or Library Catalog.
  6. Look for other good keywords and subject terms in search results.
  7. Try revised searches until you're satisfied with the results.
  8. Depending on the volume of results, consider narrowing or broadening your topic.
  9. If you're having difficulties, contact us.

Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
   child care worker or nanny   (finds either term)
   child care worker* or nanny or nannies   (finds child care worker, child care workers, nanny, etc.)

Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
   women soldiers and rape   (finds both terms)

Find less with NOT:
   (hijab* or burqa*) not france   (excludes records that mention France)

Sample search statement:
   domestic violence and (prevent* or interven*)

  • Narrow results with standard  limiters (peer-reviewed, date; document type; language; etc.)
  • Some databases allows quotation marks for an "exact phrase"
  • In databases for a specific subject discipline, look for specialized limiters (such as historical time period in America: History & Life or educational level in ERIC)
  • Try restricting some terms to the title or abstract field
  • Try restricting some terms ot the subject or descriptors field. Subject terms can vary from database to database, but using them usually improves relevance so look for them in results displays and detailed records. Some databases include a subject terms thesaurus.

  • Look for different, relevant keywords or subject terms to try
  • Simplify your search by removing less critical search terms or limiters
  • Expand some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided
  • Try a different database or OneSearch

Sample Searches

Note: Subject terms, while helpful for focusing results, sometimes are not assigned until after the initial posting of a record. You also may want to try using subject terms as simple keywords (i.e., without requiring them to appear in the subjects field).

Shows a search that uses Subject terms, Geographic terms, and a limiter for peer-reviewed

Relatively simple searches usually work well. To include limiters such as format, language, etc., use Advanced Search.

Sample search for the phrase "intimate partner violence" and prevent* with a wildcard

Bayou Building 2402, 2700 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058-1002