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GPHY 101: Library Research Guide

Subject Specific Databases

Connecting Keywords

Used for
What it Does


when you want to find material containing two or more concepts

using AND between keywords means that both terms must appear somewhere in the record

narrows your search

A search for <benefits AND oil sands> would only retrieve those documents containing both the word benefits and the phrase " oil sands."


when you want to find material containing either or any of the keywords

use OR to combine synonyms and related terms

broadens your search

A search for <food scarcity OR food deserts, health geography> would retrieve information on either concept.


use NOT to exclude a concept or word from the search

use NOT sparingly, if at all, because you could end up excluding useful search results (e.g. articles or books that discuss both concepts)

narrows your search

A search for <NGO NOT governments> would exclude any results which contain the word "governments."


Nested Searching is used whenever you have more than one Boolean operator, such as AND and OR, in a search statement, it is necessary to separate them with parentheses. This is known as a "nested searching." Here's an example:

(shortage OR scarcity) AND ("natural resources" OR "ground water")

Nested searching tells the database the proper order in which to search for the keywords. Operations enclosed in parentheses are performed first followed by the operators outside the parentheses.

Note: Most databases use American spelling, so, when applicable, you should search for both versions of a word (e.g. use labour OR labor to retrieve either results for either spelling).


"return on investments"
"climate change"
"developing countries"

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Finding Government & Advocacy Group Info

Try using the Google Custom search to limit your results to information originating from government, non-government or think tank organizations.