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Research Guides

ENV 320H1S - National Environmental Policy

Never pay of ebooks or aticles

If you encounter a message that you should pay to access an article, ebook, etc. online, STOP and try the following: 

1) Search for the resource the library website <>

2) Set up Google Scholar to ask for your UTORID

3) Ask for help if you still have access issues

Building a search strategy

Choosing your Search Terms

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: 

  • Will your topic be discussed in the news using scholarly terms or would other terminology be more effective?
  • Has the terminology changed over time or based on location? 

Designing your Search Strategies

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: 

Quotations marks (narrows your search)

Search for specific phrases or names or different spellings e.g., hyphens

  • "border crossing""El Contrato""City of Toronto" 

  • "employee engagement" OR  "employee-engagement


Asterisk * (widens your search)

Be aware that this doesn't work in certain databases.

  • politi* = political, politician, politics

  • Canad* = Canada, Canada's, Canadians, Canadian, Canadiana


AND (narrows your search)

  • "refugee camp" AND migrat*

  • migration AND climate 

OR (widens your search)

  • 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

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.

Advanced search using brackets, quotations, an asterisk, and the AND, OR, and NOT commands.