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Search Strategies

There are a number of search strategies you can use in Library OneSearch and our library databases to help improve your search results.

Phrase Searching

Put quotation marks (" ") around search terms to search for them as an exact phrase. Example: "higher education."


Boolean Logic (AND/OR/NOT)

  • Use AND between keywords to narrow your search results. Example: charter schools AND Massachusetts.
  • Use OR between keywords to broaden your results. Example: "individualized education program" OR IEP.
  • Use NOT to filter out results that contain terms you're not interested in.


Use an asterisk (*) if you'd like to find multiple endings of a word root. Example: educat* will find educate, educator, education, educating, etc.


Author Name

Authors may publish their works under different names or variations of the same name over the course of their lifetimes. Try searching for different combinations of an author's name or try using some of the advanced search features in our databases to search by an author's institutional affiliation (e.g., Brandeis) or their ORCID ID, if they have one.

Proximity Searching

This feature is useful if you want to specify your search terms' proximity to each other. The formatting for this feature differs between databases, so check the database's help page if you're not sure what format to use. Here's the formatting you would use in some of our library's databases to search for the word feminist within 4 words of the word pedagogy:

  • ERIC (ProQuest): feminist N/4 pedagogy
  • APA PsycINFO: Feminist N4 pedagogy will find the words if they're a maximum of four words apart from each other, regardless of their order. Feminist W4 pedagogy will find the words if they're within four words from each other, and in the exact order that you entered them.
  • Scopus: feminist W/4 pedagogy