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BIOL 318: Writing for Biological Sciences

Databases to Search

EBSCO Search Box

Ram Search

Search for articles, books, journals, and more!

Creating an Effective Search

Boolean Operators and Wildcards

Boolean operators tell the database how to put your words together in a search. Wildcards allow you to search for a a word, or part of a word with any ending. Here are some examples: 

  • raci* AND "college students" --> This search will combine the two search terms. The phrase "college students" AND any word that begins with "raci" (for example: racial, racially, racism)
  • (race OR raci*) AND "college students" --> This search will search for the phrase "college students" AND any word that begins with "raci" OR search the phrase "college students AND the word "race"

For help with understanding how to use AND and OR check out this video from Stewart Library at Weber State University:

Keyword Searching vs. Subject Searching

Keyword searching is when you type a word or phrase into the database search bar and search the entire database record or a specific part of the database record for that keyword. 

Subject searching is limiting your search to the subject terms in the database record. 

Both are effective methods of searching, and can be used in combination.


Proximity Operators 

Proximity operators work similar to AND. They tell the database to find both of the word you are searching for in the database record. How the proximity operator differs is it tells the database to search for the words you are looking for within a set number of words in a sentence. The proximity operator is Nx, where x is the number of words you want. Here is an example: 

  • College N3 students --> finds the words college and students within three words of each other in the database record. This search will find the phrases college students and students in college, and any other variation of the words college and students within three words of eachother.

Use the proximity operators carefully! You can make your search too narrow by using proximity operators. Use AND in your search first, and if you find your results aren't relevant, you can try proximity operators.