Skip to Main Content


Identify Main Concepts

Once you've written a research question, break that question down by identifying the main terms or concepts. 

Generate Synonyms

List synonyms for the keywords that you underlined in your research question. 

Croton Aqueduct NYC Socio-economic
Public Water New York City Tenements
Reservoir Manhattan Immigrants
    "Upper Class"

Create Search Strings

Unlike with Google, where you can type in full sentences or questions, when searching in any of the library resources (Primo, journals, or databases) you need to use the Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT to string together your search terms.


Other Search Tips

Truncate Root Words Phrases Use multiple search terms and parentheses in your search strings

Using an * at the end of a word such as Labor* will bring back everything with that root (laborers, laboring, labors, etc). 

Putting quotation marks around a phrase will tell Primo to keep those words together. For example: "Croton Water."

Croton Water without quotes can bring back articles on best watering practices for crotons (the plant).

The words Croton and water both appear, but without being linked together, it's not the concept of Croton water that you're looking for.

(Croton aqueduct OR "Croton water") AND tenements AND immigrants.

Using parentheses is a lot like the distributive property in math. The search inside the parentheses is done first. 

Be Aware:

Be careful about the words you truncate. For example: cell* will bring back everything from cellular phones to cellulitis, so you could quickly make your search results irrelevant.

Be Aware:

Stringing multiple search terms together using AND narrows your search. Therefore, sometimes stringing too many terms together with AND can make your search so narrow you receive few, or no, results.