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Music Library Guide: Research & Writing

Library guide for Music & Dance students & staff

Help with Research

                      Check out the Assignment and Orientation project guide.

What is a search string?

A search string is the combination of all text, numbers and symbols entered by a user into a search engine to find desired results.

Search strings are used to find files and their content, database information and web pages. A search string may include keywords, numeric data and operators. 

Need to identify variables? apply PICO, PICO or SPIDER

Traditional/narrative review vs Systematic review

Confused about whether or not you are writing a traditional/narrative or a systematic review. Look out for the following, to identify what you are writing

Chang, S. 2018.

Research books

Boolean operators


When you use “AND” to combine search terms, this will bring up results that contain both key terms, for example, water crisis and cape town. Articles referring to both those terms together will come up but when you join terms with OR, it will bring up articles that have either or terms. When using “NOT” you are wanting to exclude a term. So, maybe you are interested in elections but NOT America, the use of “not” will exclude literature containing America and elections



Truncation searching lets users find documents containing variations of a root keyword. For example, if we place librar* in a search term we are not limiting our searching to just “library”. We would get the all possible endings to the root ‘librar’: libraries, librarian, librarianship, and so on. Wildcards can be helpful, but they can also increase unwanted coverage and should be used with caution. By asking the database to return all possible endings to a root word, you run the risk of increasing your irrelevant results.