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PSCB90 Physical Sciences Research Experience

Welcome to the research guide for PSCB90. This guide will help you become familiar with relevant research tips & resources for your project.

Build Your Search Using Boolean Logic

Boolean logic is the fancy language databases use to search. Boolean operators connect your keywords together.

The three basic boolean operators are: AND, OR, and NOT. 


AND links together distinct concepts in your topic. It tells the database that all the search terms must be present in the results.

Memory aid: AND does not expand - it's going to narrow your search results.


OR links together related concepts or synonyms. This tells the database that any or all search terms can be present in the results.

Memory aid: OR is more - it's going to broaden your search results.


NOT is used to exclude certain words or phrases from a search.

Note that using this operator runs the risk of excluding relevant results from your search - so use it sparingly!


How to use Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT

How to use Boolean Modifiers: phrase searching, truncation, and wildcards

Improve Your Search

  • Too many results? Add more keywords to narrow your search results.
  • Not enough results? Remove keywords or choose less specific keywords to broaden your search results. 
  • Spell Check! Google your keywords to make sure you spelled them correctly. Your search will not work if your search words are not spelled properly.
  • Thesaurus Different databases prefer different keywords. Use the correct keywords for the database you are using. Look at the keywords that are listed for any relevant articles you retrieve and then try running a new search using those words.

Filter Your Results

If you get too many results, many databases have a "Refine Results" column or "Limits" section to help you narrow your search.

Explore narrowing results by publication date (for more current articles), methodology (empirical studies), publication type (peer-reviewed journals), and document type (journal article) to help focus your search.