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SRM 600: Introduction to Graduate Research

This course-specific guide features resources that will help you get started with your research process for SRM 600: Introduction to Graduate Research and other courses you may be interested in taking at UNC,

Search Strategies

When searching for journal articles or dissertations in UNC Library databases, here are some important strategies to keep in mind.

Use Keywords

Keywords help focus your search on what you’re looking for.

Instead of this phrasing: "What are strategies to increase student motivation in Title I schools?”

Try:  student motivation AND Title I

Boolean Operators

There are three Boolean operators – AND, OR and NOT.


Helps narrow your search.

Take the example from above:

     student motivation AND Title I

We tell the search to look for all articles that contain both of these phrases “student motivation” AND “Title I”.


Helps broaden your search. We tell the search that we will accept both possibilities in our search results. Oftentimes, synonyms are linked using OR. 

Example: Title I OR Elementary and Secondary Education Act OR ESEA


Can help make your search more precise. If a result that is different than what you intended keeps dominating your search results, you can use NOT to remove it.

Example: If you were interested in what motivates students in Title I schools in every grade BUT sixth grade, you could search:

student motivation AND (Title I OR Elementary and Secondary Education Act OR ESEA) NOT sixth grade


With each result page, there is a section on the right that gives you options to limit your results. You can select limiters like: 

  • Full Text
  • Type of information source (Academic Journals, eBooks, etc.)
  • A specific journal
  • Subject 
  • Location
  • Publication date 
  • Peer Reviewed/Refereed/Scholarly Journals*

*When searching for journal articles, your sources are most likely required to be scholarly/peer reviewed/refereed. Dissertations can be helpful/useful sources but they are not considered to be peer-reviewed. 


Try entering your search terms in quotations marks or parentheses. 

Quotation Marks

Can help keep your search terms together.  

So instead of: student motivation

Try: "student motivation"


Can be useful if your career has different terms that can be used to refer to it. Putting these terms in parentheses tells the search to look for all of these terms. This strategy can help you get more relevant results. 

Example: ("Title I" OR "Elementary and Secondary Education Act" OR ESEA)