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USD Information Literacy Lessons: Page 16

The broad focus of these lessons is understanding sources of information, including examples that can help you learn how to access information sources at USD. Each lesson is dedicated to a specific element of information competency.

Keyword versus Phrase Searching

Our first search on violence, followed by violence AND school, is an example of using only a single search term or two search terms in a keyword search. We have already seen how using more than one search terms can narrow the results. The more search terms you use, the more focused the search will become. An easy way to continue focusing this search is to use phrase searching.

Phrase searching is when you combine two or more words together in a phrase and instruct the database to search for that exact phrase. This is done by placing the phrase in quotation marks as in "school violence" or "civil war" to name just a few examples. Phrase searching increases the likelihood that your results are about your topic. The keywords civil and war can return very different results than you would expect from the phrase "Civil War."

This phrase search on "school violence" is narrowed to 5650 hits, much less than the 130,000 returns from using the two keywords violence and school. You can combine keywords and phrases by using the Boolean operators just discussed to refine your searches even more.

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