Library Tutorials: How to Search

Choosing Search Terms

After choosing a topic and doing some background research on that topic, develop a strategy for searching by generating key terms and phrases that relate to your topic. Below are some common strategies for improving your search results include:

Separating a topic into concepts

For example, if your research question was "Many college students work while going to school. Does their working have any effect on their grades?" your keywords might include:

  • college students
  • working
  • grades
Brainstorming synonyms for concepts
  • college students > synonyms: university students, freshmen, first-year students
  • working > synonyms: employment, jobs, occupation, vocation, labor
  • grades > synonyms: g.p.a., achievement, academic success, graduation rates
Considering multiple spellings and word forms
  • labor > labor, labour
  • g.p.a > grade point average
  • work > working, workers, workplace