Before you search for sources, brainstorm words and phrases that describe your topic. Remember to include synonyms (example: teenagers, adolescents, juveniles). Identify the academic disciplines that are associated with your topic (e.g. gun control is associated with criminal justice, legal studies, social science). Using words that describe academic disciplines as search terms can be one way to improve your search results.
|Words to Find Books||Words to Find Articles|
|climate change||“ice shelf” and “sea levels” and climate|
|early childhood education||inclusion and autism and preschool|
|respiratory diseases||chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and therapy|
|gun control||“concealed carry” and laws and “United States”|
For example, if you search for the phrase “death penalty” in from the library homepage, you will find sources that are in the subject area of “capital punishment”, the standard term for sources about that topic.
Using “capital punishment,” rather than “death penalty,” as a search term may produce more relevant results.
Library databases don’t automatically add the word AND to your search terms. In a basic search, it’s always a good idea to use one or two narrow terms and one very broad term connected by the word AND to improve your search results (e.g. Thor and death and mythology). [The capitalization of AND isn’t necessary, it’s done here for emphasis.]
An Advanced Search makes it easier to connect concepts and gives you Boolean (AND, OR, NOT) search options to choose from. The options to search by item title, author, subject term etc… are also more visible in this search.
If you want to search throughout the text of articles, you can also select All Text from an advanced search.