WR 60 - Winter 2014 - Search Tips

  • Don’t just type your entire research question/topic into the search box! Only enter the most important terms in your research topic. These important terms are called keywords, and most library search systems work optimally with keywords, not whole questions or phrases.
  • Good keywords are usually specific nouns.
  • Think of synonyms (words that mean the same thing as your search term). For example, if you're searching for information about young children and literacy, you might want to search for both "early literacy" and "emergent literacy" and "developing literacy," as these are all terms to describe the same thing. You will learn terms related to your topic in the early stages of your research. Don't worry if you don't know them as you start out!
Some Other Search Tips
  • Put phrases in quotes to tell the system you're only interested in those exact words, in that exact order. Ex: “United States”, "adult literacy"
  • Use the Advanced Search, and limit your search domain to only .edu or .gov sites.
  • Use the Advanced Search, and tell it to NOT look for certain words. For example, you may not be interested in any results about health literacy or financial literacy, so you could ask it to ignore results where the words health or financial appear.