UTS Library

028227 - Learning and Development Across the Lifespan: Search Strategy

In this guide:

Yor search strategy is the combination of keywords and search operators that you enter into a database.

After filling in the keyword matrix worksheet [docx, 34kB], use those terms to create a search strategy by combining them with the following operators:


AND is used to combine two different topics. It makes sure each of your results includes both of your topic areas. Using AND will return fewer results.
Eg: self-esteem AND family


OR is used when you are using synonyms. It makes sure your results contain all the possible ways of talking about your topic. Using OR will return more results.
Eg: self-esteem OR self-worth


Nesting search terms tells the search engine what to do first. You put brackets around a group of synonyms to let the search engine know they are together.
Eg: (self-esteem OR self-worth) AND (family OR domestic)

phrase searching

Phrase searching is used when a term contains more than one word. It tells the search engine to only search for that exact phrase. To do a phrase search, put double quotation marks around the words you want to combine.
Eg: body image


Using an asterisk * at the end of part of a word tells the database that you’re looking for all the words that start with those letters. It’s the same as typing out all the words and placing OR between them.
Eg: Educat* instead of (educating OR educator OR education OR educational OR …)

Boolean Operators [YouTube Video]

Advanced Search Strategies [YouTube Video]

Tips for searching

  • Use narrower terms if there are too many results.
  • Use broader terms or more synonyms if there are not enough results.
  • Use different terms if your results aren’t relevant enough.