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Team Internship Program - Boeing

This guide is to support the 2023 Internship Program collaborating with Boeing.

Sample Searches for Context

Effective searching for background and contextual information begins with 3 key parts:

  1. Keywords, phrases, and terms that connect to your main idea
  2. Boolean operators and modifiers that help you broaden and narrow your results
  3. Most relevant location or database for searching. That is, is Google, Google Scholar, or a library database appropriate for this search?


I want to start looking at STEM and its relationship with minoritized students before now. My keywords are:

  • STEM OR engineering OR aerospace. I don't know which works best yet so I use OR to look for both
  • minorit* OR underrepresent*. I don't know what version of this word I need so I use the wildcard modifier
  • maybe: retention OR retain* OR discrimination OR gender gap OR barrier. I can add another word here to narrow my search further if I want.

I will use this phrase in the library's OneSearch tool because I want to see if there's scholarly articles and books on STEM and the pathways to careers in aerospace. 

My full search string is:

("STEM" OR engineering OR aerospace) AND (minorit* OR underrepresent*)

Effective Searching Using Keywords

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

  • Use AND to connect keywords and look for both terms together. Example: aerospace AND graduates
  • Use OR to include synonyms or similar keywords. Great for when you don't know what word to use yet. Example: college OR university
  • Use NOT to exclude topics or subjects that are not relevant to your search. Example: 

McMasters Libraries: How Library Stuff Works Boolean Operators (AND OR NOT) Youtube Video

Modifiers (*, (), " ")

  • Use quotation marks or "" to look for a specific phrase or term in that order. Example: "aerospace engineering" will give results only including this exact phrase.
  • Use wildcard or * to broaden a keyword to its many forms. Example: minorit* would include minority, minorities, and minoritized in the results.
  • Use brackets or parentheses or () to tell the database the order you want to search. Example: (aerospace OR aeronautics) AND "graduation rate" would look first at any results with the term aerospace OR the term aeronautics then it would look for anything that also had the term "graduation rate" in the same result.

Databases and Tools To Find Information

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