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BILS (Building Information Literacy Skills) Tutorial

A text and video tutorial that will introduce students to the research process and Bunch Library

Why use a search strategy?

Library databases are different than Google, and require specialized search techniques. Use these strategies in library databases to retrieve better results more efficiently.

These strategies can be used in most library databases as well as the library catalog.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are the connectors AND, OR, NOT. Combine keywords using Boolean operators in order to create the most effective search strategy.

AND will narrow your results:  Ex. Searching for "gun control laws AND crime rates" will retrieve only items where both terms are present.

OR will broaden your results: Ex. Searching for "law OR legislation" will retrieve items where either term is present.

NOT will exclude terms from your results: Ex. Searching for "gun control laws NOT Australia" will retrieve items where the first term is present but exclude results that contain the second term.

Watch this short video to see Boolean operators in action.

Identify key concepts and keywords

If your research question is "How do gun control laws affect crime rates?", how would you go about searching for information? Instead of using the entire questions, select the key concepts.

For this topic, the key concepts are

  • gun control law
  • crime rate

Notice the words "how" and "affect" are not key concepts since these words can apply to many different topics. Avoid ambiguous terms like these and instead use specific nouns to get the best results.

Keyword vs. Subject Searching

Keyword searching is what you are used to doing in Google or other search engines. It is simply identifying key concepts from your topic and using those terms to search. Sometimes this can be a very effective way to search. Other times you might find that you are getting results that seem off-topic or you are getting too many results. This is when subject searching can be helpful.

Watch this short tutorial to learn how to learn about subject headings and how to use them.