What are keywords?
Most databases don't understand the natural language we speak, so pick out the main concepts in your topic to use as search terms. For example, let's say you are writing a paper on the ethical aspects of racial profiling.
The main concepts, or keywords, are
Hint: leave out little words like the or of.
Think of synonyms and variations
In order to do a comprehensive search, think of synonyms and variations of your main concepts
Roget's Thesaurus can help you think of other search terms.
Think of each keyword as having a set of results that is connected to it. These sets can be combined in different ways to to create larger or smaller sets of results. You can also exclude certain sets from your results. Boolean operators - AND, OR, and NOT - are the tools you use to combine these sets of results.
The table below explains how Boolean operators work.
|AND combines different terms when both must be present. Use AND to narrow a search.|
|OR combines terms when at least one must be present. Use OR to broaden a search.|
|NOT eliminates irrelevant terms from a search. Use NOT when you want to exclude all records that contain a certain term.|
A basic search would look like this:
racial profiling and ethics
A more complex search using your synonyms:
(racial profiling or ethnic profiling) and (ethics or morality or ethical)