Why do I need to know about keywords?
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:
Famines and other crises of scarcity are compounded by drought or some other climate extreme
|Food security||water supply||natural disasters|
TIP: Consider variations in spelling: colour/color, organise/organize, theatre/theater.
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:
(famine OR starvation) AND drought
It will return results containing "Famine" and "drought" and also "starvation" and "drought".
Using two different operators in the same search string? Employ brackets:
Use quote marks when searching for a phrase (more than one word). For example: "water shortage", "climate change"
This will ensure the search is for the exact phrase rather than two separate words and will hence return specifc results and save you time.
The wildcard symbol '?' will match any single character (although some databases and catalogues use the "*" symbol for a wildcard as well). For example, wom?n will include women and woman.
Use the truncation symbol '*' (asterisk) to help you search for alternate forms of your keywords. For example, child* will include child, children, children's.