Keywords are the terms that you type into the search box in a library database. They are the essential terms for your idea, the most important words describing your topic.
Before you can begin searching for information in a resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic.
Key terminology can be be found by scanning:
Use subject terms assigned to works in library catalogs or research databases.
Once you have identified keywords, use the following techniques to build search strings for searching in library catalogs, databases, and search engines to quickly find more relevant sources to use in your research:
AND combines different ideas or concepts, narrowing the search.
Example: fairy tales AND gender
Results will contain both the words fairy tales and gender
Phrase Searching allows adjacent words to be kept together.
Example: “Snow White”
Results will contain words Snow and White together as an exact phrase.
OR is used when adding synonyms, different spellings, similar concepts, etc., increasing the number of results
Example: fairy tales OR folklore
Results will contain one or more of the words fairy tales and folklore
Truncation broadens search to include various word endings and spellings.
Results will contain terms that begin with histor, e.g., history, histories, historical
NOT excludes terms to make the search more specific, reducing the number of results.
Example: Snow White NOT film
Results will not contain the word film
Nesting utilizes parentheses to control the logical order in which words are interpreted by the system.
Example:(fairy tales or folklore) AND gender
Results will include the word gender and either or both the words fairy tales and folklore
You can search multiple databases at once. In an EBSCO database (as shown above), click Choose Databases to select resources that may be relevant to your research. NOTE that the image above is simply a picture and does not have search functionality.
Some databases you may want to search simultaneously are: Academic Search Complete, APA PsycInfo, Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text, Legal Collection, National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts, Political Science Complete, and/or SocINDEX