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BIOL 343 - Plants and Peoples

Search Tips: Search Operators

Google automatically finds synonyms and variations on the keywords you search for. Other databases don't always have the same capabilities. Here are a few tips which can make your database searches more effective:

Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT

  • Most databases assume an AND - they search for documents matching all the keywords you search for.
  • OR can be very useful when you're not finding enough results - add in some synonyms to broaden your search. Use parentheses to gather these synonyms together and combine with another concept.
  • NOT is equivalent to the minus sign in Google - use it to exclude a word from your search. Use with caution.

Phrase searching: put quotes around your keywords to find the words together, in that order. Might limit your search too much; use carefully.

Truncation: in most databases, an asterisk (*) at the end of a word will find all different endings.

  • Example: “life cycle” AND (analysis OR assess*)

The UBC Library catalogue uses ?. Check under the help for more information about what symbol to use in the database you are in.

Controlled vocabulary or subject headings: these are terms added to articles or books to help you find related topics. In some databases, you can click on these or add them to your search to help improve your results.

Access Tips: UBC InterLibrary Loan

There are a lot of resources that UBC Library doesn’t have access to, but you may find useful!   If a book or article isn’t available online or in print, you can request it be brought in for you via UBC InterLibrary Loan.

This is a free service for UBC students, faculty, and staff. However, it takes time to bring in the item - research early, so you have time to acquire all the resources you need!

How to order via interlibrary loan

If you’re having any difficulty finding or accessing a resource, ask a librarian!

Access Tips: UBC Document Delivery

  1. Find a book you want at another campus. e.g. below
  2. Check the Status is Available
  3. Order via Document Delivery.

Order books from other campuses. Fast!  ....more info