Tutt Library Research Guides
The right keywords help to effectively search catalogs, databases, and the Internet.
You may need to do multiple searches in each database to research your topic. However, with patient and persistence, you'll find relevant material.
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
Footnotes and bibliographies are a quick way to find related materials and track popular authors.
Use all variations of a keyword.
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.