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SOCL 215: Quantitative Research Methods (HC)

Sociology 215: Quantitative Research Methods (Kohlman) Spring 2023

Developing a Search Question

Tips for Searching

If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review.  At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results.  One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.


For example, a search for queer AND postcolonial will return items that contain both "queer" and "postcolonial":


indigenous OR aboriginal returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:


globalization NOT tourism returns items that talk about migration and mass media but not pleasure travel:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("forced sterilization") or titles:

Truncation and Wildcards:

Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.


For example, one could search for politic*  to find politic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.


Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.



Nested Searching:

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.

For example, (coloni* OR imperial*) AND (sex* OR gender) will return results for the union of the two subject areas.