A “keyword” is simply a concrete word or phrase that describes the main concepts in a research question or topic. If you have used an internet search engine, you are probably familiar with keyword searching.
A keyword search:
NEVER type more than one or two words into a search box. Use Advanced Search for more search boxes to add keywords:
To expand search results, drop the ending of keywords and place an asterisk (*) next to the root of term to find all variations such as the plural and adjectival forms:
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Generating Search Terms Tutorial
This video tutorial will show you how to find and generate effective keywords for internet or database searching:
Boolean operators allow you to connect search terms together to get more focused results. The most common are AND, OR and NOT:
The operator AND is used to narrow search results.
It retrieves results that contain all the terms it separates and excludes the records that contain just one of the terms.
Example 1: youth AND drugs
In this example, your search will only retrieve records that have both the term 'youth' and the term 'drugs.'
Example 2 : child AND development AND play
In this example, your search will only retrieve records that have all terms -- 'child', 'development' and 'play.'
The operator OR is used to expand search results.
Using OR between two or more search terms will retrieve results that contain either or all search terms. OR is usually used to search for synonyms or related words.
Example 1: native OR aboriginal
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have either or both of the terms 'native' and 'aboriginal.'
Example 2: job OR career OR profession
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have either, any, or all of the terms 'job', 'profession' and 'career.'
The operator NOT is used to narrow search results by excluding one or more words.
It retrieves the records that contain the first term but eliminates any records that contain the term which is entered after NOT. It should be used with caution as it may eliminate relevant records.
Example 1: depression NOT economic
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have only the term 'depression' and any record which contains the term 'economic' will be left out of your results.
Example 2: crime AND London NOT Ontario
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have only the terms 'London' and 'crime' and any result which contains the term 'Ontario' will be not be included in your records.
A field is used to “file” a library resource in the catalogue or database. Fields appear on the catalogue or database record and vary according to the format of the library resource.
This is an example of a catalogue record for an academic journal article. There are fields for the article title, name of the journal (source), author(s), database, and so on. These fields are used to describe and index the library resource:
To narrow search results by field, choose from the drop-down menu next to the search box:
A field search:
When you use LibSearch or library databases, you will often get too many results.
In LibSearch and most databases, the left-hand or right-hand column of the search results page has many limiters to narrow and improve the accuracy and relevancy of results.
To begin, click on the arrow to open the list of options for that category. Choose an option or click show more for additional options.
The categories of filters and limiters include:
In library databases, subject headings are a type of standardized “tag” used to index and organize resources on the same topic, regardless of the words used in the actual text.
Subject headings are useful because they collate under one umbrella term all the synonyms, singular or plural forms, and spelling variants of a given term. They provide a controlled vocabulary that relieves the searcher from having to search for every variation of the term in order to find all relevant resources.
Also referred to as subject terms or descriptors, subject headings vary depending on the database. A list of subject headings is typically provided within the thesaurus or index, which can be used to begin a subject search.
For example, the Business Source Complete database has a link to its Thesaurus that provides the option to search or browse by keyword:
After searching by keyword, such as accounting, a list of subject headings pertaining to that subject is retrieved:
Another method of subject searching is by opening the catalogue or database record.
Often, the subject headings are hyperlinked. Clicking on one will retrieve all resources that have been indexed under that subject heading:
A subject search:
Follow these tips to improve the quality of hits in LibSearch and the library's databases:
Pearl growing uses the characteristics of a highly relevant and authoritative article, referred to as the "pearl," to search for additional related sources.
To use this technique, follow these steps:
1) Find a relevant and authoritative article on your research topic
2) Locate and open the record for that article in the library database
3) Review the subject terms that are used to describe and index the article in the database:
3) Use the subject terms to search for further resources in the database by clicking on them if they are hyperlinked or including them as keywords in a new search statement
4) If necessary, repeat the process as new sources are found
This simple and intuitive approach involves breaking your research question or information need into distinct groups, or "blocks." Follow these steps:
Get better results from Google by using these search tips and tricks:
Example: "distance education"
Example 1: community college site:.gc.ca (typing "site:.gc.ca" after the search term will limit results to government of Canada websites)
Example 2: educational technology site:.edu (typing "site:.edu" after the search term will limit results to educational institutions)
Example: allintitle: information literacy (typing "allintitle:" before the search term will limit results to those that have all those terms in the web page title, such as "National Forum on Information Literacy," "Canadian Research Libraries Information Literacy Portal," and so on)
Example: postsecondary education -university -training search results will include sites with the term "postsecondary education" and exclude sites with the words "university" or "training")