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Recreational Therapy Lib Guide

Basic Search Techniques

Keywords are the words that you type into the search box to find resources about your topic. What are the most important words in your research question? Think of synonyms for those words.

Example: I am looking for evidence-based practice research about reminiscense and dementia.

PRO TIP: Breaking your search question up into concepts can help with developing keywords.

Concept One   Concept Two   Concept Three
"evidence based" AND reminiscence AND dementia
OR   OR  
"case study" AND "memory recall" AND  

After you have decided on your keywords, you'll need to tell the database how they should be connected.


reminiscence AND dementia

Will find resources that have both reminiscence and dementia as keywords.


(reminiscence OR "memory recall")

Will find resources with reminiscence OR "memory recall" as keywords


dementia NOT "multiple sclerosis"

Will find resources with the keyword dementia and NOT "multiple sclerosis"

After you decide on your keywords and how they connect to each other, you should come up with a few search strategies that you'll try in the databases.

dementia AND reminiscence

dementia AND (reminiscence OR "memory recall")


Advanced Search Tips

Truncation can be used with root words that have multiple endings. It can help to increase your search results.

Truncation uses symbols (or wildcards) to replace letters in words. Different databases use different symbols. The most common are:

* (asterisk)   ? (question mark)   #(pound sign)

EBSCO databases use * (asterisk)

Example: evaluat* would find: evaluation, evaluate, evaluates, evaluating

Nesting is another way to refine your search, by combining Boolean operators. Place parenthesis around the terms that are grouped with OR or NOT.

dementia AND (reminiscence OR "memory recall")


  • Avoid empty words like relationship, impact, effect, results
  • For best results, combine strategies: