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*GERO 8320 Psychology of Aging: Search Strategies

Building Your Search

Moving from a Research Question to an effective Search Strategy involves breaking down a Research Question into its Core Concepts, brainstorming alternative Keywords for those concepts, and then constructing an effective Search Strategy using Boolean operators, nesting, truncation, and phrase searching.  Here's an example:

Now, we can copy and paste this Search Strategy into the database search field:

(“gender differences” OR “sex differences” OR gender OR sex) AND (alzheimers OR dementia) AND (“male caregiv*” OR “female caregiv*”)

Search Strategy Builder

The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.

  Concept 1 AND Concept 2 AND Concept 3
Name your core concepts here    
Search terms Search terms Search terms

List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

You can use single words, or phrases with quotation marks,
or truncated words with the *










Now copy and paste the above Search Strategy into a database search box.

The Search Strategy Builder was developed by the University of Arizona Libraries(CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).

Free Worksheet!

Use this worksheet to break down your Research Question into Core Concepts; then construct an effective Search Strategy using Boolean operators, nesting, truncation, and phrase searching.

PICO Framework

(describes the patient group - e.g., adult males 65+ who reside in assisted living homes)

Intervention (describes the action/disposition at hand - e.g., treatments, diagnostic tests)

Comparison (describes an alternative to your Intervention - e.g., not receiving that treatment)

Outcome (describes the outcome you want to measure - e.g., reduced mortality, increase in ability)


Do adult males 70+ who receive music therapy twice a week show improved scores on a memory test compared to adult females 70+ who receive music therapy twice a week?