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GW Law Library
Research Guides

Science & Social Science Research

Locating science and social science analysis and data is the focus of this guide.

Quick Tips

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Find Keywords

Keyword(s) are significant or descriptive word(s) or phrase(s) expressing the topic you plan to research.

Examples:  swine; "genetically engineered crops"; "modular reactors"

Search for discussions of your topic in government documents, scholarly, peer-reviewed journals or reliable, accurate news sources; compile a list of descriptive words, synonyms and acronyms. 

Suggested starting points:

Use Connectors

Connectors are words or symbols that establish relationships between keywords in a search.

In bibliographic databases, there are usually two search options: "basic" and "advanced":

  • "Basic" search provides a search box where keyword(s) or phrases and connectors (typed in ALLCAPS) may be entered. 
  • "Advanced" search provides a template with selection options provided for connectors and boxes available for typing keyword(s) or phrases.

Connectors for searching bibliographic databases & online catalogs:

  • AND = All keywords must appear somewhere in a bibliographic record (title, abstract (if available), or subject terms)
  • OR = At least one of the keywords must appear somewhere in a bibliographic record (title, abstract (if available) or subject terms).
  • NOT = A bibliographic record containing a keyword will not appear in search results.
  • Example:  regulat* AND microgrid*

When searching full text databases, it is recommended that for more effective searching, a different set of connectors be used:

Connectors for searching full text:

  • /s = Keywords appear in the same sentence in any order
  • /p = Keywords appear in the same paragraph in any order
  • /n = Keywords appear in any order within a specified number of words of each other
  • Examples:
    • glider /s emissions
    • glider /p emissions
    • glider /10 emissions


Truncation refers to the act or process of shortening or reducing. 

When constructing a search, symbols can be attached to the end of keywords (truncating a word) to retrieve different forms of a word.