Skip to Main Content

CMSC 20370: Inclusive Technology: Designing for Underserved and Marginalized Populations

A guide to resources for students in Marshini Chetty's course (Winter 2020)

Contact Information

Jennifer Hart
Librarian for Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics
Ryerson Physical Laboratory 156
Email Jenny

Phrase Searching

Quotation marks should be used around a phrase or concept of two or more words. Doing this ensures that the concept will be searched for as a whole and not picked apart by the search engine. For example, typing death penalty without quotation marks could potentially retrieve all items that mention death, all items that mention penalty, as well as all items about death penalty. This could lead to results that seem to have nothing to do with your topic, e.g. funeral rites in India or penalties in hockey. For best results, use quotes.

For example: "death penalty", "death penalty" and race, or "death penalty" and "race relations".

There are differences between databases as well. Some databases use other symbols than quotation marks, such as {brackets} or others. Most databases will have a page dedicated to search operators specific to their databases.

Boolean Operators & Parentheses

Boolean Operators are used to connect and define the relationship between your search terms.

The three Boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT.

Using Parentheses Using the ( ) to enclose search strategies will customize your results to more accurately reflect your topic. Search engines deal with search statements within the parentheses first, then apply any statements that are not enclosed.

Example: A search on (smoking or tobacco) and cancer returns articles containing: smoking and cancer; tobacco and cancer smoking; cancer, and tobacco; but does not return smoking or tobacco when cancer is not mentioned.

Using Boolean Operators with Google Scholar

Boolean operators work slightly differently in Google Scholar.

The Boolean AND command is automatically implied in ALL Google searches – so you don’t need to use it.

Boolean OR must be in all capital letters, or else google will simply ignore it.

Example: ptsd OR “post traumatic stress”

Boolean NOT is the minus sign "-" and must be in front of each word you want to exclude.

Example: anxiety speech -public

* Using the Truncation Symbol *

Truncation is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings. To use truncation, enter the root of a word and add the truncation symbol at the end.

trauma* = trauma, traumatized, traumatic, etc.

child* = child, children, childcare, etc.