UCLA Libraries' Video Tutorial on Creating Keywords/Search Terms
Constructing Effective Searches: For when it seems like you just can't get to the sources you need, this tutorial will help you get going in the right direction. Learn how to use boolean search terms and related keywords to construct effective searches!
START: by considering your research question
Before you begin searching for information in a database, you should have a clear sense of what question you are hoping to answer through your research
Having a research question will help when looking at a list of information sources to determine which sources are useful (help to answer your research questions) versus which sources are not useful (will not adequately answer your research question).
Example: How does climate change impact droughts in California?
Identify Keywords and Concepts
How does climate change impact droughts in California?
Impacts of Climate Change
List Related Terms and Synoyms
Global Temperature Rise
Average Surface Temperature
*HINT: When developing search terms, consider how different people or communities talk about your topic of study
by combining search terms, you tell the database to return only results that contain BOTH words
drought AND California
the results for this search will include resources where the words drought AND California are both present
this tells the database to return results that contain EITHER term, when using synonyms or related words
Climate Change OR Global Warming
the results for this search will include resources containing the term climate change, or the term global warming
this tells the database to return results that contain one word, but NOT when it appears alongside another specific word
Climate Science NOT denialists
the results for this search will include resources containing the term climate science, but not when climate science appears together with denialists
this tells the database to return results containing an EXACT PHRASE, where words appear together in a particular order
"Sea Level Rise"
the results for this search will include resources where the words, sea, level and rise, appear together in that EXACT order, rather than results where sea, level and rise may appear randomly within a text
this tells the database to search for the common root of several related words:
recyc-le, recycl-ing, recycl-able
the results for this search will include resources containing RECYCL, including: recycle, recycling, recyclable
you can create a search formula/equation to combine Boolean operators with search modifiers
("Global Warming" OR "Climate Change") and California
the results for this search will include resources containing California together with either the term, "global warming," where the words global and warming appear together, or the term, "climate change," where the words climate and change appear together
Choosing to perform an "Advanced Search" will allow you specify what search fields you want to apply your keywords.
For example, if you search for "climate change" in the "Title" search field, the database will only return results for articles that contain "climate change" directly in the title of the article.
Databases contain both articles accessible through the database, as well as information about articles on your topic that are available elsewhere (i.e. not in the database).
By selecting to limit your search to "Full Text" the database will only return results for articles you can access immediately.
The database will allow you to limit your search by "Source Type," so that your search will only return results for the type of publication you choose.
|Academic Journals||Newspapers & Magazines||Trade Publications|
|Type of Source||Scholarly||Popular||Popular|
|Authors||Scholars who are experts in their field of study||Journalists, or professional writers||Professionals working in the industry|
|Purpose||Published in advance academic scholarship around a particular field of study.||Published to inform the general public about a topic of popular interest.||Published to inform other professionals in the industry.|
|Information Value||Provides theoretical analysis and/or the results of data collection, empirical studies, etc.||Provides information gathered from "on-the-ground" reporting and conducting interviews.||Provides information about emerging trends, technologies and market research related to the industry|
|Potential Usage||Get expert analysis on your topic of study from scholars with deep knowledge gained from years of study and investigation||Get the testimony or narratives from those living with the impact(s) of policies, laws or social phenomena related to your topic of study||Get an inside perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing particular industries and markets|
The database will allow you to adjust the "Publication Date," so that your search will only return results for articles published within the date range you select.
The database will allow you to narrow your search by "Subject," so that you can look through articles related specifically to the subject.
The database will allow you to narrow your search by "Geography," so that you can look through articles related specifically to the country, or region that you select.
When you find an article in the database that meets your information needs, check out its Bibliography. Work Cited Page, or footnotes for additional sources that may also relate to your research topic.
In some cases, the sources listed in your article's Work Cited Page, or footnotes may also be available through the database.