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Tutt Library Research Guides

 

History: Search Tips

Create A Keyword List

The right keywords help to effectively search catalogs, databases, and the Internet.

  • Start by compiling a list of keywords that represent each concept of your topic.
  • Try the Search Generator from Northwest Missouri State University to help you create a keyword search.
    • Use more specific terms when searching databases versus catalogs.
    • Look for additional terms in your search results. Add these to your list.
    • Search Google Books for keywords in the title, table of contents, subject headings, and text of books.

      You may need to do multiple searches in each database to research your topic. However, with patient and persistence, you'll find relevant material.

      Keyword Searching

      Use the Search Generator from Northwest Missouri State University to help you create a keyword search. 

                              Using AND/OR/NOT (Boolean Search Operators)

      AND

      Use AND to focus search and combine different aspects of your topic.

      Example: vegetarianism and environment
      OR

      Use OR to expand your search and find synonyms/related terms.

      Example: global warming or climate change

      NOT

      Use NOT to exclude a word or phrase from your search

      Example: emissions trading not United States

       

      Additional Search Tips

      "Phrase search"  - Use quotation marks (" ") to search for a particular phrase.

      Example: "greenhouse gas emissions"

      Truncation * - Use an asterisk to find variations of a word. Put an asterisk following the root of the word to find all variations of that word, including singular and plural.

      Example: environment* (finds environments, environmental, environmentalist, etc.)

      (Grouping/Nesting Keywords) - Use parentheses ( ) as a way to group all your search terms together.

      Example: (climate change or global warming) and population growth

      Leverage Footnotes and Bibliographies

      Footnotes and bibliographies are a quick way to find related materials and track popular authors.

      Keyword Thesaurus

      Use all variations of a keyword.

      Words change over time. Today we say Civil War but, in the past, it has been called the

      • American Civil War
      • War between the States
      • War of Secession
      • War of the Rebellion

      If you searched only the term Civil War, you might miss valuable documents written during a different era.

      The Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies thesaurus will help you find variations of keywords and subject headings.

      Tutt Library, Colorado College      Research Help Desk: 719-389-6662, Texting: 719-387-5441, E-mail: tuttref@ColoradoCollege.edu