If you encounter a message that you should pay to access an article, ebook, etc. online, STOP and try the following:
Think of the language that will be the most effective for your search and keep track of search terms that produce the best results. Ask yourself:
Some databases allow you to enter search terms on separate lines (e.g., enter a keyword the top line and researcher or activist's last name below, so as to articulate your search request)
Using Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT, quotation marks, asterisk) allows you to widen or narrow the search for your keywords and target your research topic:
Search for specific phrases or names or different spellings e.g., hyphens
"border crossing", "El Contrato", "City of Toronto"
"employee engagement" OR "employee-engagement"
Be aware that this doesn't work in certain databases.
politi* = political, politician, politics
Canad* = Canada, Canada's, Canadians, Canadian, Canadiana
"refugee camp" AND migrat*
migration AND climate
Watch out for US vs Canadian Spelling, synonyms, acronyms
migration OR mobility
neighbourhood OR neighborhood
(COVID-19 OR COVID OR "Corona Virus") AND (questionnaire OR survey OR "focus groups")
Use brackets to create separate groups of actions in your search.
Use only when you need to remove topics that overwhelm your search results
"environmental migrant" NOT hurricane
(migration OR mobility) NOT refugee
Search operators are a set of commands that can be used in almost every search engine, database, or online catalogue. The most popular operators are AND, OR, and NOT. These must all be in capital letters to work. Other operators include parentheses, truncation, and phrases.
Use the following search operators to broaden or narrow your results.
|AND||Use this word between concepts to narrow your results.||e.g. sensory AND perception|
|OR||Use this word between related concepts.||e.g. habitat OR ecosystem|
|NOT||Use this word to exclude terms from your search.||e.g. virus NOT corona|
|Quotations||Use quotes to search for a multi-word concept.||e.g. "International Year of Indigenous Languages"|
|*||Use the asterisk symbol to include alternate word endings.||e.g. cultur* will search for culture, cultural, and culturally|
|?||Use a question mark to include variations in spelling in your search.||e.g. wom?n will search for woman, women|
|( )||Use brackets to create separate groups of actions in your search.||e.g. "climate change" AND (ecosystem* OR habitat*) AND Ontario|
Pictured below is an example of how all of the above search operators can be combined to refine a search that will help locate sources describing the experience of women participating in the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada.
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