Step 3. Keywords & Search Terms
Words & Phrases
Identify the words and phrases that describe your topic. Remember to include synonyms (example: teen, adolescent, juvenile). Use reference sources to look for alternative keywords, common phrases, and to check your spelling.
If you find phrases which are common to your topic (example: "global warming" or "No Child Left Behind"), surround the keywords in "quotation marks" to search for that exact phrase. This technique works in most Library databases and Internet search engines.
As you search, look for the library subject terms associated with your topic. The Library of Congress uses a set of standardized terms to describe all subject areas. When you locate an item in any library catalog, the subject terms will appear in the item record.
Try a basic keyword search in the Library Catalog and locate an item relevant to your topic. A search for the keywords death AND penalty produces several books and films. One of the common subject terms in these records is capital punishment. Using capital punishment as a subject search will produce more results relevant to that topic.
- Constructing a Search Statement (UNC Ashville)
- Keyword Searching vs. Subject Searching (George Mason Univ.)
- Boolean Operators (Columbia University)
- Boolean Logic (Ithaca College)