Learning Objective: Identify the keywords in your research assignment
Watch this Video on What are Keywords (From Seneca College Libraries YouTube channel, opens in new window)
Global warming is also "Climate Change OR Pollution"
Global warming AND cities - YES
Is global warming bad for cities - NO
Here are some simple search techniques that can increase the relevance of your results and save you a lot of time. You can use them on RULA’s website and on search sites like Google Scholar.
Remember - Searching takes time and you might have to go back and use different search strategies.
Step 1: Choose your keywords
Figure out your Keywords: Your keywords are the main concepts or ideas of your paper.
For example the keywords for a paper on "youth employment in Canada” would be:
Step 2 : Find synonyms
Use related words and phrases (synonyms): There are multiple ways to express the same concept.
Employment can also be:
Youth can be:
Use "AND" and "OR" (in capitals) to pull your keywords and synonyms together. These are known as Boolean operators! This way you can search for multiple concepts effectively.
AND = finds sources that contain all keywords
Youth AND Employment AND Canada
OR = finds sources that contain at least one of these keywords
Youth OR teenagers OR young people
NOT = eliminates or ignores a related term that you do not want in your search
Java NOT coffee (for when you want JAVA the computer language)
Employment NOT Farms (for when you want to exclude sources about employment on farms)
Step 4: Pulling It All Together
Use parentheses ( ), called nesting, to group the related terms. Next, use OR between each related keyword
( Keyword 1 OR related term ) AND (Keyword 2 OR related term) AND (Keyword 3 OR related term)
(teenagers OR adolescents) AND (work OR employment) AND (Canad*).
Learning Objective: Understand how to expand or narrow your search to find more sources
Your research process involves false starts, repeating steps and asking increasingly complex questions.
If you get zero results for your search, try a broader term (expand).
Twitter use AND Ontario = 0 results
Twitter use AND Canada = 9 results
If you get thousands of results and are overwhelmed, narrow your topic
Drug use AND Canada = 200,000 results
Marijuana use AND Toronto = 13 results
Check out the Library's Research Help Page!