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St. Clair County Community College Library

Biology 101 Essentials of Biology

Search Strategies

When searching for information, there are a number of techniques to use that will help refine your search results.  You can use these strategies when looking for information from the library databases or from a search engine such as Google.

Phrase Searching

Put quotation marks " " around phrases to search the term as a phrase. Otherwise the database or Google may separate the words.

"climate change"     "gene therapy"     "ethical aspects"     "genetic testing"

Boolean Operators

Refine your search results using Boolean operators. The three most common Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT, but there are others available. The operators AND and NOT will narrow your search and OR will usually increase your search results. 

AND - Use AND to find resources with all of your search terms.

“human genetics" AND "ethical aspects"

cancer AND "decision making" AND "quality of life"

"bioengineered foods" AND risks


OR - Use OR to find articles with either search term in them.

"genetically modified organisms" OR GMO

benefits OR risks

"heath care" OR "medical care"


NOT - Use NOT to eliminate terms you do not want in your search results. 

"climate change" NOT Antarctica


Combining Terms - Put parentheses () around the ORs if other Boolean operators are used.     

cancer AND (aged OR aging) AND treatment AND "ethical aspects"


Advanced Search Strategies - More Examples

More Examples of Advanced Searching