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First Year Seminars: FYS 146-3 Probability

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Advanced Search Strategies

Boolean Operators

Use Boolean operators between terms or phrases to broaden or narrow your search as needed.

Venn diagrams showing how the operator AND narrows searches, OR broadens, and NOT narrows.

Phrase Searching

Add quotes around search terms to find results that contain those exact terms in that order and right next to each other. You'll get fewer results this way, but you won't have to sort through as many irrelevant items.

Search for "mental health care" returns fewer results than a search for mental health care without quotation marks


Databases may use different syntax to do this, but adding an asterisk (*) to the end of a word or stem is the most common way to tell the database to search for any autocompleted variation of the letters you entered. While a search for effect just finds matches with the word effect, a search for effect* can find matches with the words effects, effectiveness, effectively, etc.

A search for effect* finds results with effects, effectiveness, effectively, etc.

Google Site Searching

Adding site: and a specific URL or domain to your Google search will only return matches from that URL or domain. This is a powerful way to control where Google looks and what it shows you. It might help to identify the top-level domains for your country right away so you can perform more targeted searches.

  • — only returns matches from U.S. government websites
  • — only returns matches from the Gettysburg College website


Check your understanding of Google site searches by typing the syntax you would use to find the information described in each prompt.

Find Background Information

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Search across a large collection of academic encyclopedias at once.

Find Scholarly Journal Articles

Use these databases to find scholarly journal articles, or even articles from magazines and newspapers, on your topic. To get full text of the articles you find, click on the PDF or HTML links within the database. 

If the full text isn't available in the database, click the  button.

Interdisciplinary Databases

Discipline-Focused Databases