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Sociology (SOC) 460 [Sarathchandra]: Create Search Strings

Create a Search String

To find literature about a topic, first need identify the keywords associated with the topic.

Sample Topic: What factors do residents report as contributing most to food insecurity in Latah County, Idaho?

Main keywords Related keywords
Factors economics, access, distance
Food insecurity food security, access to food, availability of food, nutritional adequacy, hunger
Latah County, ID Moscow, Idaho, northern Idaho, inland Northwest

Then to create a search string, select specific keywords and combine them using Boolean connectors (or operators).

When searching, Boolean connectors allow you to "tell" a Library resource what each result must or must not include.

Boolean Example Description
"Quotation marks" "food insecurity" Each result will contain the exact phrase included in the quotes


Google Scholar: A space = AND

"food insecurity" AND income

Google Scholar: "food insecurity" income

Each result will contain all keywords
OR + parentheses () ("food insecurity" OR "food security") Each result will contain at least one of the keywords connected by OR and included in the parentheses
NOT ("food insecurity" OR "food security") NOT "southern idaho" Only results that do not include the specified keyword will appear in the results list
Asterisk (*) econom* = economy, economics, economical, etc. Each result will include variations of the root of the keyword

Combine AND, quotation marks, OR and parentheses, and asterisks * to create a more complex searches.

Example: ("food insecurity" OR "food security") AND econom* AND Idaho