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Business & Management Research Guide: Research Tips

A guide to business and management resources at Yale Library.

Article Searching Tips

What are Boolean operators?  How do they work?

Boolean operators and modifiers allow you to narrow-down or broaden your search.  Here are four that are most commonly used:

Are you interested in getting email alerts or setting up an RSS feed about topics that interest you?  

Most of the article aggregator databases you have access to through Yale University Library offer options to set up alerts:


Not sure what keywords to use for your searches?

Try using a database's thesaurus feature.  You can find the preferred controlled terms for a topic, and see a definition of the term along with broader and narrower terms.  You can use the checkboxes to add terms to a search.

How can I generate a list of keywords to search in library databases?

For a general survey of the existing literature on the topic for your own knowledge, generating keywords can be as simple as coming up with synonyms for the key terms in a research question.

Ex: Research question: How do economic conditions affect women's employment?

Key terms: economic conditions, women's employment


  • economic conditions-  recession, high unemployment, low unemployment, volatile markets

  • women - female

  • employment - work, job, career

Once you have a list of synonyms, you can construct exploratory searches in a database that combine these terms into compound phrases or by using boolean operators.

Ex: recession AND female employment - will search for both phrases in article title, abstract, and full text.

(high unemployment OR low unemployment ) AND (female OR women) AND (employment OR career) - more inclusive search will bring back results with any combination of the three key terms and selected synonyms.


For a review of the literature that aims to be as comprehensive as possible, using thesauri and a conceptual framework can help operationalize the search process. Using a framework like PICO/C can help keyword searches be as thorough and reproducible as possible.

What is PICOC?

The Center for Evidence Based Management defines PICOC as, "a method used to describe the 5 elements of a searchable question."

P - Population - Who?

I - Intervention - What or how?

C - Comparison - Compared to what?

O - Outcome - What are you trying to accomplish or improve?

C - Context - In what kind of organization/ circumstances?

Ex. Research question: How does the availability of paid family leave affect how many women work outside of the home?

  • Population - employed women
  • Intervention - paid family leave
  • Comparison - employed men, absence of paid family leave
  • Outcome -  more women working outside of the home
  • Context - in the United States

Once you have each element defined, you can construct a database search to represent each one. This search will be more targeted to your topic than searching without a conceptual framework.

Ex. employed women AND paid family leave policies NOT paternity leave 

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