Create a Search Statement

Now that you are acquainted with Boolean operators, you are ready to create a search statement that uses the library databases to the fullest.

Let’s create a search statement for the research question:

“Does exposure to media influence the amount of  bullying among children?”

Following the steps on the page Identify Keywords, this research topic can be broken down into 3 concepts with synonyms and related terms:

  • media: television, films, video games, music
  • bullying: intimidation, aggression, aggressive behaviour
  • children: youth, child

To create an effective search statement, you can make use of Boolean operators as well as the following techniques.

1. Truncation

Truncation allows you to search on several variants of a word at the same time. A symbol replaces one or more letters at the end of the word. Always check the help page of the database to know the correct symbol to use.


child* will search for child, children, and childhood

aggress* will search for aggression, aggressive, and aggressor

2. Exact phrases

Quotation marks () allow you to search for an exact phrase. Searching with the terms video games may give you articles that discuss the best way to create a video of a soccer game. However “video games” will result in articles where these two words occur side by side in this specified order.

3. Grouping

Group similar keywords (synonyms and related terms) together using the connector OR. Place each group inside parentheses.


(television OR “video games”)

(bullying OR aggress*)

(child* OR youth)

Each group describes one of the concepts or main ideas from the research question. Now join the 3 concepts together with the connector AND.

(television OR “video games”) AND (bullying OR aggres*) AND (child* OR youth)

This is just one possible search statement for this research question.


Tip: Visit the Search Boxes page for some tips on entering your search statement into a database search box.


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