Tutt Library Research Guides
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 create a keyword list.
|-- Use more specific terms when searching databases versus catalogs.|
|-- Look for more 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.|
|-- Use the Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies thesaurus to find variations of keywords and subject headings.
Use the Search Generator from Northwest Missouri State University to help you create a keyword search.
Using AND/OR/NOT (Boolean Search Operators)
Use AND to focus search and combine different aspects of your topic.Example: vegetarianism and environment
Use OR to expand your search and find synonyms/related terms.
Example: global warming or climate change
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
A Google search of your topic is a fast way to find keywords. Looks through the results list to find related terms.
Use keyowrd variations.
Words change over time. Today we say Civil War but, in the past, it has been called the
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.