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Research Skills & Strategies

Search Strategies

  • Identify key concepts. Include only useful or relevant keywords in your search. 
  • Try synonyms and search Subject Terms, Subject Headings or Descriptors to maximize your search
  • Truncation tip: child* will return results for child, childhood and children.
  • Use Advanced Search to limit to document type, time period, material type, etc.
  • Refine results to just Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) journals

Boolean Logic

Refine your search by using Boolean Logic (AND, OR, NOT):

AND narrows a search, though the AND is usually implied (i.e. tourette syndrome AND adolescent). This searches only for items containing both search terms.

OR expands or broadens a search (i.e. GMO OR genetically modified OR transgenic). This searches for either term thus widening the possibilities. This is good for searching using synonyms.

NOT excludes specific terms (i.e. healthy weight gain NOT pregnancy). This would be useful if you wanted to find info about healthy weight gain not related to pregnancy.

Search STrategy


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Library Research Skills Workshops

Learning to do library and web-based information research is an important part of information competency. These abilities are increasingly important in our networked, information-rich society and can be applied in college work, as well as in one’s personal and professional life.  The library offers several Library Information Skills workshops that can help students meet the information competency learning outcomes required by their courses and as part of the CCSF Information Competency graduation requirement.

Evaluating Information

Remember that anyone can publish anything on the Web, so you are responsible for evaluating the quality of the Web pages you use for your papers and assignments. Here are some questions to use to evaluate Web pages.  

More about evaluating information.

Library & Learning Resources, City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112 (415) 452-5541