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IPS 610: Information Resources: Search Strategies

To aid IPS 610 students in finding information resources. Fall 2019

Search Strategies

Search related concepts (including scientific & common names) and combine with OR

  • corn OR Zea-mays

Add additional concepts using AND

  • (corn OR Zea-mays) AND (chromosome mapping)

Use truncation symbol (wildcard) “*” to search various word endings

  • (corn OR Zea-mays) AND (chromosome map*)

Be aware of variant spellings/terms/phrases & British terms

  • maize vs. corn, label(l)ing, colo(u)r, centre/center

Consider searching for similar research with other organisms

  • use broader categories

Utilize database search aids

  • MeSH for PubMed (Medline), Thesaurus, Help Screens, etc.

Search Tips

Here are some tips to help you when searching!   The following tips can increase your chances of find articles and journals that best  fit what you are looking for!


  • Wildcards/Truncations help you expand your search to multiple forms of a word.  
    • For example, if you type farm plus an asterisk (*)  will search the following: farm, farms, farmer, farming, etc.
  • It is important to note that the most common Wildcard symbol is an asterisk (*) but symbols vary by database.
  • When using UK Libraries:
    • InfoKat Discovery uses a question mark (?) as a Wildcard symbol.
    • Nexis Uni uses an exclamation point (!) as a Wildcard symbol.

How to Broaden or Narrow Your Searches

Sometimes when you search a databases thousands of articles will appear, so you will have to narrow your search.  Other times only ten articles may appear and you need to broaden your search.  Well Boolean Operators can help you do both!

  • AND
    • narrows a search
    • farming AND soybeans will provided only results that are both about farming AND soybeans
  • OR
    • broadens a search
    • farming OR soybeans will provide results that have content on farming OR content on soybeans
  • NOT
    • excludes term(s) that  follow NOT
    • farming NOT soybeans will provide results about farming that don't include soybeans.

If you are not sure how something works or can't find out what you need here check out the help or tips screen on the database you are using or contact the Agricultural Information Center.  We will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

Agricultural Information Center Reference Librarian