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ENGL 1301/0219 Holliger

Step 3: Researching the Significance of the Accomplishment

Once you have background information on both your person and a historical frame of reference, it's time to combine the two and find more information about why this person's contribution was significant and what this person did. 

To do this using the library's research databases, you'll need to use KEYWORDS and BOOLEAN operators to format your search.

Using Keywords & Boolean Searching

The library's databases work by matching - they search for exactly what you type in (unlike Google).

google vs databases image

When using the library's databases, instead of searching with sentences or phrases, you should search with KEYWORDS.

To choose keywords, start by identifying the most important part of your topic. Then brainstorm synonyms and other similar terms.


After you have identified keywords for your topic, combine them with BOOLEAN operators (AND, OR, NOT). 

HINT: The boolean operator students find most useful is AND.

Image of boolean search terms

Once you have a list of KEYWORDS, you can combine them with BOOLEAN operators to create your searches.

image of boolean searches

Once you know the basics of searching with KEYWORDS and BOOLEAN operators, you will find that it is much easier to find what you need in the library's research databases.

image comparing boolean search to a search without boolean

Library Databases to Try

Remember to use KEYWORDS and the BOOLEAN term AND for best search results.

Example searches:

  • jane fonda AND vietnam
  • jane fonda AND anti-war movement