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Guide to Agriculture Research in the Cal Poly Library: covers Animal Science, Agribusiness & Food Industry Management, Agricultural Education, Food Science, Human Nutrition and Plant Science.

Tips for Creating Advanced Keyword Searches

These tips can be used, in general, with the Library's OneSearch, databases, and on the open Web.

Try Boolean operators or connectors
  • AND = Fewer results. All of your search terms must be found in the results. EXAMPLE: mare AND foal AND health. You could also just type: mare foal health.

  • OR = More results. Any one or more of your search terms must be found in a result. EXAMPLE: problem OR complication OR concern.

  • NOT = Fewer results. Word(s) must be excluded from the results. EXAMPLE: corn NOT toes. The word "toes" would be excluded.

Try a phrase search
  • Find words that appear in a particular order. Type the words in order between quotation marks. EXAMPLE: "reproductive evaluation".

Try a truncation search
  • Finds words that start with certain letters. Type a word stem, then add an asterisk symbol. EXAMPLE: Insemin* will find inseminate, inseminated, insemination, inseminating.
Try a nested search
  • Use parentheses to separate search statements so they can be combined and performed in order. Statements inside parentheses are searched first, and the order of operations is left to right. EXAMPLE: (problems OR complications) AND tests.
Try an index or field search
  • Find words in a particular index or field. EXAMPLE: You can search for words within the Title, Abstract, or Subject field.

See more examples and information on Boolean operators and nested searches at the "Boolean Searching (Science Version)" guide. The link is provided below.

Find Information on the Open Web

Google logo by Ruth Kedar
Logo by R. Kedar (1999)

Search the open Web more effectively with the links and tips below. Keep in mind that many online sources are plagiarized or of questionable quality.  When using online sources, ask yourself the following questions:

Who is the author? -- What are her/his credentials? -- What possible biases exist? -- When was this source published?

A good strategy for using the open Web

Whenever possible, look for information from web sites that are published by relevant and reliable entities. You can learn about relevant and reliable entities from class lectures and conversations with your professors. You can also pick up names of relevant and reliable entities from the text and cited sources or Bibliography of your textbook, library books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and the library's research guides. Relevant and reliable entities would include an expert individual or group, a reputable institution, organization, company, or a government agency.

News stories, magazine articles, and other "popular" forms of information that are directed at the general public, could also provide helpful leads, depending on your assignment. Relevant and reliable entities are often mentioned in articles from well-regarded international and local newspapers, including The Times of London, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times. These are just a few examples. Try the links below to explore further!

Helpful links:

How can you tell if a source will be good for your assignment?

This CPP Library video illustrates how to evaluate Information with the CRAAP Test.