Keywords represent the main concepts of your research topic.
To select keywords:
Identify the main concepts of your topic.
Brainstorm synonyms that could also be used to describe your topic.
Spell out abbreviations.
It's rare that your first search will bring back perfect results. It takes trial and error to determine the best keywords, so be prepared to run multiple searches.
Put phrases in "quotation marks"
Only brings back results that have the words next to each other
Example: If you search mountain ranges, the database will retrieve articles that mention mountains and articles that also mention ranges, but not necessarily the term mountain ranges. However, if you search "mountain ranges," the database will retrieve results where the word "mountain" is next to the word "ranges" in the articles.
Search for all possible endings
Use an asterisk (*)
For example: Mountain* searches for
The words AND, OR, NOT are used to combine or exclude keywords in the search, resulting in more focused and productive results.
AND: Requires both keywords to be searched. If an article contains one keyword but not the other, that article is not included in the results.
Narrows the search
OR: Requires either keyword to be searched. Any article that contains at least one of the keywords will be included in the results.
Broadens the search
NOT: Requires the first keyword to be searched, then any articles containing the second keyword will be subtracted from the results.
Use parentheses ( ) to enclose search strategies.
Search engines deal with search statements within the parentheses first, then apply any keywords that are not enclosed.