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Molecular Biology

Guide to selected UH Manoa Library and Web resources for molecular biology

Searching Tool

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).

Comparing Scholarly Articles and Popular, Professional and Trade Sources


Popular, Professional and Trade

Always includes author names and institutional affiliations

Names are sometimes included, but are often anonymous staff writers

Always includes citations or footnotes

Seldom include citations or footnotes

Reports on experiments or other original research to make the results available to the scholarly community; sometimes literature reviews

Articles for the general public or for professionals in a specific industry about relevant trends and issues

Generally includes sections for introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion

Articles are generally short

Uses technical or specialized vocabulary

Written using vocabulary relevant to the publication's audience

Little or no advertising

Advertising that relates to the audience of the publication

Peer-reviewed before publication

Not reviewed by outside scholars

Boolean Operators

Databases use three primary operators to determine how you want your search to be run:

  • OR will find synonyms
    • cat OR feline
  • AND will combine ideas
    • cattle AND horses
  • NOT will exclude terms
    • mustangs NOT cars

Additionally, the use of () will allow the database to know how you want your search terms to be interpreted:

(horse OR equine) AND (hoof OR hooves) AND lameness

will bring much more relevant results as the search must include at least one term from the three primary concepts used (either or both of the terms horse/equine) AND (either or both of the terms hoof/hooves) AND the term lameness


  • Virginia Tech/University Libraries- Kiri De Bose 
  • Name of Original LibGuide - Hyperlinked back to the original page.

Compare the above to this to the search:

horse OR equine AND hoof OR hooves AND lameness

where the blue indicates what and how the terms would be searched for and brought back in the results list. Here, results would include items that contained any of the following conditions:

  • anything with the term horse would be retrieved (so this would include anything about nutrition, reproduction, management, etc.); 
  • anything with both of the terms  equine and hoof would be returned (this would include things that weren't related to lameness);
  • anything that had both the terms hooves and lameness would  be returned (as the concept of "horse" is not tied to this, the results would include anything that also discussed sheep, cattle, and other animals with hooves that are lame).

Virginia Tech/University Libraries

Animal Science - Kiri DeBose