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New Student's Guide to the Library

Incoming freshmen and new students: start here to use library resources

Create an Initial Search Statement

1. State your topic or research question in your own words (example: what impact does social media have on your sense of cultural identity?).
2. Identify the most important keywords and short phrases.
3. Identify variations (singular, plural) and synonyms for your terms.
4. Create an initial search statement using connectors (especially AND, OR) and, if appropriate, wildcards.


Unless you're using OneSearch, stick to keywords:

  • "facebook use among teenagers"
  • facebook AND teenagers

Watch your spelling:

  • judgement
  • judgment

Avoid implied words:

  • effects of climate change on agriculture
  • "climate change" AND agricultur*

Use connectors correctly:

  • (social media AND twitter AND facebook) OR (cultural identit* AND group identit*)
  • (social media OR twitter OR facebook) AND (cultural identit* OR group identit*)

Sample Search Statement

Note: The parentheses used here are an example of nesting. When you have a single text entry box, nesting ensures that a database combines terms as intended when there's more than one type of connector (for example, both AND and OR).

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