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EVSC20005 Contested Resources

This research guide provides assignment support for this subject.

Search Strategies

On completion of this module you will be able to:

  • understand the importance of keywords for effective searching
  • use synonyms and subject terms to generate keywords
  • apply phrase searching, truncation and wildcard terms effectively
  • use Boolean operators to broaden or narrow your search

Why do I need to know about keywords?

  • Keywords give you the best chance of finding relevant information by clarifying what it is you are searching for
  • Identifying keywords from concepts is a key part of understanding your topic
  • Keywords allow you to capture results you might otherwise miss
  • Keywords can help to broaden or narrow your search

How do I know which keywords to use in my search?

The first step is to consider the key concepts in your topic. Consider the following topic:

How to manage conflict around contested natural resources?

  • the main concepts are manage, contested natural resources
  • brainstorm and list related terms or synonyms for each concept
  • consider geographical location: Australia? Victoria? Europe? Asia etc...


Manage Contested Natural Resources
oversee pressured  water
control competition  land
supervise    air
relations   climate change
power   forests


 TIP: Consider variations in spelling: colour/color, organise/organize, theatre/theater.

Keyword Searching 101 Christine DeMeyer added 6 November 2015

To re-iterate:

Combine your keywords using Boolean operators to broaden or narrow your search. 

AND will narrow your search. Useful when your keywords are quite common and you need to be specific.

OR will broaden your search. Useful when your terms are very specific and you need to cast a wide net.

NOT eliminates a word from your search. Useful when you get two terms often found together and you are only interested in one.

Combining Boolean Operators

You can combine Boolean operators into longer search strings. The search below can be entered like this:

(manage OR control) AND "natural resources"

It will return results containing "manage" and "natural resources" and also "control" and "natural resources".

Some more examples:

  • (media OR journalism) AND bias
  • (technique OR skill) AND practice
  • (creativity OR imagination) AND (children OR teenagers)