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Persuasive Essays: Search Preparation

Search Strategy

Develop a clear research question:

For example, a  research question might look like this:

What are effective practices in parenting?


How does play impact brain development at an early age?


How has Asia reformed their educational system and what can Americans learn from it?


Divide the your research question into concepts: 

1. educational reform

2. Asia

3. America

Using your key words develop a search string

Now use boolean searching to broaden or narrow your search 

 To Broaden your search for more results, include OR between your concepts. 

To Narrow your search for more specific results, include AND between your concepts: 


Topic - Research Question - Thesis

Topic: Parenting for Success
Research Question: How does personal freedom influence personal success? 
Thesis: (Claim) Good Parenting should emphasize personal freedom and move away from custom and conformity    OR 
Good parenting should be based on custom and conformity to societal views and move away from theories such as personal freedom, which have shown to be damaging to childhood behaviors.   


Search Smarter Not Harder!

Here ia a little recap of using Boolean Search Operators: AND, OR, NOT Logical Operators

You can use the following logical operators (also known as Booleans) in your searches:

  • Use AND to find all of your search terms

  • Use OR to find one, some, or all of your search terms

  • Use NOT before a term that you want to exclude

Some prefer to capitalize the logical operators, but this is not required.

Sample searches

     children and travel finds documents that contain both terms, children and travel anywhere within the searched text.

     postmortem or autopsy finds documents that contain either postmortem or autopsy or both. At least one of your terms must be present. OR is good to use when searching for variant spellings or synonymous terms.

     "benjamin franklin" not bache finds documents that contain the term Benjamin Franklin, but that do not contain the term Bache. This would include documents that mention Benjamin Franklin, but not his great-grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache.

How to search for andornot as words

When your search term includes andor, or not as words rather than logical operators, enclose your search terms in double quotation marks. For example: "black and white photographs"