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Michigan State University

PLS 800 Proseminar - Political Theory and Research Methods

Tips for Searching

Tips for Searching

1. Consider truncating your keywords

Truncating words broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings. Remove the ending of the word and add an asterisk *. 

Examples

  • Politic* 
    • Finds political, politics, politically, etc.
  • vot*
    • Finds vote, votes, voters, voting, voted, etc. 

2. Put phrases in quotes

If you are searching for a phrase, such as Israeli government or political parties, put the entire phrase in double quotes. This will tell the search engine to only find results that contain the exact phrase, rather than one or two of the individual words.

Examples

  • "voter suppression" rather than voter suppression
  • "political parties" rather than political parties

3. Use AND to narrow your search

If you have two or more words or concepts that you want to find, use AND (must be capitalized) to tell the search engine to only look for items that contain both words.

Examples

  • race AND voting
  • "political parties" AND race

4. Use OR to expand your search

Often, there is more than one way to talk about your topic. If you want to try looking for multiple variations of the same word or phrase in a single search, use OR (all capitals) to tell the search engine to find material with any of the words you've included.

Examples

  • race OR ethnicity OR minority
  • "political party" OR "political affiliation"

You can even get fancy and use both AND and OR:

  • United States AND "political party" AND (race OR ethnicity OR minority)

5. Use filters in the database

Databases have a variety of filters built in that you can select to help narrow your results. Consider adding filters such as publication date or peer-reviewed/scholarly to your search, especially if your search is returning to many results. 

Michigan State University