"Key" Takeaways

Selecting Keywords

  • Keywords are specific, meaningful words - usually nouns - that describe the most important ideas in your topic or research question.
  • You do not need to type your entire research question, topic, or thesis statement into the search box - just your keywords!
  • When coming up with keywords, think of synonyms or alternate ways of stating your important ideas to make sure you're finding all of the information relevant to your topic.
  • Don't use words like significant, important, pros/cons, good, bad, effect, impact, etc.

Advanced Searching

  • Use advanced search techniques with your keywords to make your searches even more powerful.
    • Use quotation marks for phrases (multiple words that express one idea), as in "national park" or "Deschutes River."
    • Use AND for narrowing searches (to get fewer results), as in college AND study skills.
    • Use OR + () for including those synonyms and alternate terms, as in (Yellowstone National Park OR Yosemite National Park) AND forest fires.
    • Use NOT for excluding words you don't want to search for, as in Portland NOT Maine.
    • Search for multiple variations of one word stem using truncation (shortening). This is usually done with the * symbol, as in teen*, which would search for the word teen, teens, teenager, and teenagers all at once.

In General

  • If your search gets too complex, you may not find any results. Build your complexity slowly, as needed, rather than starting with a super complex search.
  • If you have questions about searching, you can always ask a librarian!