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Organizational Psychology and Leadership Research Guide

Use this guide to find UNO library resources and other helpful research tools.

Structuring a Keyword Search

When searching databases with keywords, you can use Boolean operators to combine those terms into a search string. The Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT.

The image below shows you how to use each of the Boolean terms within your search.

Searching with AND

When you connect keywords with AND you will narrow your search because you will only receive results that include BOTH keywords.

Searching with OR

When you use OR to connect keywords you broaden your search because the database will give you results that include either of your keywords.

Searching with NOT

When you use NOT with your keywords you narrow your search again because your results will exclude any sources including the second keyword.

Tips from the Librarian

Search Order

Databases follow commands you type in and return results based on those commands. Be aware of the logical order in which words are connected when using Boolean operators: 

  • Databases usually recognize AND as the primary operator, and will connect concepts with AND together first.
  • If you use a combination of AND and OR operators in a search, enclose the words connected by OR together in parentheses.
  • Examples:
    • ethics AND (cloning OR reproductive techniques)
    • (ethic* OR moral*) AND (bioengineering OR cloning)


Truncation is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.

  • To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol at the end.
  • The database will return results that include any ending of that root word.
  • Examples: 
    • child* = child, childs, children, childrens, childhood
    • genetic* = genetic, genetics, genetically
  • Truncation symbols may vary by database; common symbols include: * and ?


Similar to truncation, wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word.

  • This is useful if a word is spelled in different ways, but still has the same meaning.
  • Examples: 
    • wom!n = woman, women
    • colo?r = color, colour​


Different databases interpret searches differently. A common variation is how databases recognize phrases. Some assume that words typed next to each other should be searched as phrases while others automatically put a Boolean AND between your search terms, requiring that all the words be present, but not necessarily adjacent to each other.

Most databases allow you to specify that adjacent words be searched as phrases.

  • Using parentheses or quotes around search words is a common way to do phrase searching, but not all databases or search engines use them.
  • Example:  "genetic engineering"
  • Hint: It is often very easy to do phrase searching from the Advanced Search in a database.

Search History

In many databases you can view your search history. This is important because it can keep you from duplicating an unsuccessful search, allow you to combine searches, and track your successful search attempts.

You can also set up alerts so the database will alert you to new articles/resources that match one of your searches.