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IAU Library Basics: How to Find

Don't just use Google for information!

Google will find lots of information and is a great tool for examining certain kinds of material such as blogs and other openly accessible web resources.  However, the information you find will vary greatly in terms of accuracy, currency bias etc. Always evaluate the material for research quality.

As well as containing information that is not exposed through Google, the Library research tools also allow you to be more precise with your searching as they offer specialist research database features to improve your research discovery.

How to Search

Search and Discover


Easily discover the world of library content


For a full selection of databases and archives, use the A-Z Database List


Search print materials from IAU libraries

To browse the list of newly added print titles visit our New Arrival Page


Search e-journals or e-books with title or ISBN or Browse by MeSH




Find articles with DOI/PMID through LibKey discovery




Search patents from all of the world including subscribed and other resources



Searching Techniques

Conducting Research

Research is often an iterative process whereby the process of conducting the research will give rise to new ideas which, in turn, feed back into the data collection and analysis stage.  When conducting research in library research resources or a web search engine, you will need to experiment with different search strategies as you develop your searches, locate relevant resources and identify additional keywords to use that best represent the aspects of the topics you are researching. 

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are a set of commands that can be used in almost every search engine, Library OPACs, discovery tool, and database.  The most popular Boolean commands are ANDOR, and NOT.  Other commands include parentheses, truncation, and phrases. Boolean operators can help save you time because they can improve the relevancy of your search results and make your searching more efficient.  

Narrow your search using AND

Using the Boolean command AND in your search tells the search engine to give you results that contain all of the words you have entered


energy AND "fossil fuel": only those results that contain both energy and fossil fuel will appear in your search results list.

Expand your search using OR

Using the Boolean command OR in your search tells the search engine to give you results that contain any of the words you have entered.


"solar power" OR "solar energy":  any results that contain either solar power OR solar energy will appear in your results list.

Narrow your results using NOT

Using the Boolean command NOT in your search tells the search engine to give you results that contain the word(s) you entered except the word following NOT. 


energy NOT fossil fuel:  any results that contain the word "energy" will appear in your results list except those results that also contain the word "fossil fuel".  Use NOT sparingly, if at all, as you may end up inadvertently excluding results that are relevant.

Boolean Operators in Library OPAC and discovery tool

Most library catalogs and discovery tools provide the option to select Boolean Operators on the Advanced search screen, so all you have to do is select the operator you want from a drop-down box between search boxes, as with the following example from the online catalog of IAU central library.

Boolean Operator: AND

Use AND when your research topic has more than one key term that must be present in all of your search results. In this example, use it to link the key terms energy and fossil fuel so that both concepts appear in all of your search results. Searching with AND gives you fewer results.

Boolean Operator: OR

Use OR when there are other terms that could also be used to describe the topic, including synonyms, related terms, or words and phrases that have a similar meaning. In this example, use OR to link energy and fossil fuel, so that you'll get results with either concept. Searching with OR gives you more results.

Boolean Operator: NOT

Use NOT when you want to exclude results that contain a particular word, phrase, or topic, or when your research topic is often closely associated with another concept you do not want information about. Using NOT will eliminate all search results that include the unwanted concept. Use NOT sparingly, if at all, as it could exclude results that are ultimately relevant. Searching with NOT gives you fewer results.