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BSST 630: Motivations and Intents of Terrorists and Terrorist Groups

Course guide for BSST 630

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 subject

Search Strategies: 
Start with keywords (place phrases in quotes), use connectors (or / and) and look for the subject headings specific to each database.

place phrases in quotes so the whole phrase will be searched together and not the words individually
"national identity"
"middle east"
"political radicalism"
"low income"
"terrorist groups"
"terrorist organizations"


Place an * at the end of the word to retrieve all the variations
terrorist* = terrorist or terrorists threat* = threat or threats  
terroris* = terrorism or terrorist or terrorists motivation* = motivation or motivations  
psycholog* = psychology or psychological motivat* = motivate or motivates or motivating or motivator  
emotion* = emotion or emotions factor* = factor or factors  
female* = female or females child* = child or children or children's  
martyr* = martyr or martyr's or martyrdom religio* = religion or religious  









use - or - to connect synonyms or like concepts
any of the words can be present

factor* or reason* or motive* or psycholog*
socioeconomic or poverty or "low income" or unemployment
nationalism or "nationalist identity"
female* or women or woman
motivation or engagement or participation


use - and - to connect concepts
all terms must be included

terrorist* and (factor* or reason* or motive*) and socioeconomic
terroris* and motiv* and suicide
terror* and (female* or women or women) and suicide
terroris* and (motivation or engagement or participation) and religion


In addition, you can search by a known author.


Many databases also allow for proximity searching.

Information for the Ebscohost databases:

You can use a proximity search to search for two or more words that occur within a specified number of words (or fewer) of each other in the databases. Proximity searching is used with a Keyword or Boolean search.

The proximity operators are composed of a letter (N or W) and a number (to specify the number of words). The proximity operator is placed between the words that are to be searched, as follows:

Near Operator (N) - N5 finds the words if they are within five words of one another regardless of the order in which they appear.

For example, type tax N5 reform to find results that would match tax reform as well as reform of income tax.

Within Operator (W) - In the following example, W8 finds the words if they are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.

For example, type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.

In addition, multiple terms can be used on either side of the operator. See the following examples:

  • (baseball or football or basketball) N5 (teams or players)
  • oil W3 (disaster OR clean-up OR contamination)


Information for the Proquest Databases:
NEAR/n or N/n