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Public Policy

Guide to public policy research

Search Strategies

Always think about different ways to say the same thing.  Start with keywords to describe your topic, within results, read  the abstract and look at the subject headings to identify additional keywords to use and revise the search (if needed).
Retrieve too many results? Limit to scholarly articles, limit words to abstract or subject.

Search Strategies: 
Start with keywords (place phrases in quotes), use connectors (or / and)

Place phases in quotes so the whole phrase is searched, not the individual words

"tax reform"
"border security"
"world health organization"
"public transportation"
"North Korea"
"African American"
"human rights"
"climate change"


Use an * for truncation to retrieve various endings of the root word

effect* = effect or effects or effectiveness
sanction* = sancttion or sanctions
Immigra* = immigration or immigrate or immigrant or immigrants
environment* = environment or environments or environmental

Using OR 
When you use OR between search terms, the database will search for any of them. This is useful if there might be multiple ways to refer to your topic or when any of the words will do

Graphic showing the boolean connector OR using a venn diagram

effect* or impact* or consequence* 
"public transportation" or "public transit" or "mass transit"
"private prison*" or "for-profit prison*" or "prison privatization"


Using AND 
When you use AND between search terms, the database will only show you search results that contain all of those search terms.

Graphic showing the boolean connector AND using a venn diagram

("world hunger" or "global hunger") and gmo*
("counter terrorism" or counterterrorism) and ("social media" or twitter or facebook)
"foreign policy" and china
immigra* and (policy or policies or legislation)