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Narrowing and Broadening Your Search Results: Home


To be most effective and efficient when searching, you need to know a few basic strategies.

  • Use keywords and phrases that are specific
  • Use Boolean operators to connect keywords and phrases
  • Use features built into the databases to limit your search results
  • Avoid natural language

Narrowing Your Search Results

There are many ways to narrow your search. These include:


  • Add additional keywords or phrases to your search using Boolean AND to connect them
  • Limit your results. Possible limiters include by date, to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, by language, by material type, etc.
  • Use a narrower search term to describe your topic.
  • Eliminate unwanted search terms by using Boolean NOT
  • Use subject headings

Broadening Your Search Results

Some ways to get more results are:


  • Use Boolean OR between synonyms or related terms. For example autonomous cars OR driverless vehicles
  • Remove search terms
  • Use a broader term to describe your topic
  • Use subject headings
  • Try your search in other databases

Final Tip

Remember, searching takes trial and error. You need to take time trying different combinations of keywords, databases and techniques to get the best results. It is often not a linear process. You might need to revisit steps as you learn more about your topic.