The keywords (search terms) you use can have a profound impact on the results of your research. Using the “right” words will speed up the research process, while the “wrong” words can bring to it to a halt. What are the core concepts of your research?
Before you can begin searching for information, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Search terms can be be found by:
Identifying the important concepts in your research questions
The text of any books and articles you've already found. (Do they describe the idea you're looking for in a different, specialized way?)
If you are still struggling:
Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.
AND, OR, & NOT
Use AND, OR, and NOT to connect your keywords and tell the database exactly how you want it to search for your terms. These terms help you combine or exclude words in your search for more relevant results.
cross-cultural AND communication
"social work" AND therapy
ALL of the search terms.
sibling OR brother OR sister
Results contain ANY of the search terms, but not necessarily all of them.
"interpersonal communication" NOT "mass communication"
Excludes results containing
the second search term.
Truncation & Phrase Searching
Truncation or wildcard symbols allow you to look for variations of words. They often broaden your search results.
Example: searching for sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc.
Note: The truncation symbol is usually an asterisk (*) but can vary by database. Consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages for details.
Use quotation marks for phrase searching, i.e. "University of Georgia"
Note: searching "communication studies" tells the database to look for these words in this exact order - this phrase, instead of finding communication in one sentence and studies in another.
Search Strategy Builder
This tool is designed to teach you how to create a search stringusing Boolean logic. Cut and paste the search string results into the search box of a library database or search engine.
Cut and paste the results above into the search box of a library database or search engine.