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EENV 447: Hazardous Waste Management

Search Strategies

To maximize your time and effectiveness in the research process, take advantage of some of the following search techniques that can be applied to many databases, including article databases, the library catalog, and commercial search engines.

Boolean Operators

Boolean searching involves connecting terms and concepts using the words "and", "or" and "not" in order to narrow or expand your search. If you use a phrase such as children with cancer, a database will most often look for that as a phrase and thus reduce the number of items significantly because it has to find those 3 words in a row. Therefore, you would want to use children and cancer instead because the database will look for those words anywhere in the record.

Boolean Operator Example Reason to Use
AND women AND military To find items that have both terms and to DECREASE the number of items found.
OR university OR college Use for synonyms and to INCREASE the number of items found.
NOT windows NOT Microsoft

To eliminate terms and concepts and to DECREASE the number of items found.

Google Search Tips

Tips and Tricks

Search within a Specific Site or Domain
Precede your query with site: if you know you want your answer from within a specific site or type of site (.org, .edu). For example: site:edu or

Search by File Type
Search for specific types of files, such as PDFs, PPTs, or XLS, by adding filetype: and the 3-letter file abbreviation.

For example chernobyl filetype:.pdf

Include or Ignore Words and Characters in Your Search
Highlight common words and characters such as the and & if they are essential to your search (as in a movie or book title) by putting quotation marks "the" around them. You can also use the minus - sign to specify particular items you don't want in your results, like ingredients in a recipe.

Similar Terms
Get results that include synonyms by placing the ~ sign immediately in front of your search term. A search for Christmas ~dessert recipes, for instance, will return results for desserts, along with candy, cookies and other treats.

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Minus sign for NOT. ex deepwater horizon –movie
  • Deepwater horizon or Deepwater horizon to search either a specific domain or a specific website
  • Quotes for exact terms “gulf oil spill”
  • OR use OR between search terms to find one of several words nuclear disaster OR chernobyl

For more help see the Google Search Tips page