Library:Module 1 Keywords and Synonyms 1.3

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Making Your Topic Searchable

Once you have a research topic, you need to take the time to make the topic searchable in the UBC Library sources. With Google you could simply type the entire question in the search box but you will retrieve millions of results. To develop a more specific search here are some tips which will help make the process of searching simpler, faster and bring up more relevant results lists.

Choosing Keywords

Knowing how to find what you need in library resources is a powerful research skill and the keywords you use are a huge part of the success or failure of your search. Keywords, or search words, are words or short phrases that represent the main ideas or concepts in your topic. For example, look at the following topic:

Does caffeine have an influence on academic achievement in teenagers?

The keywords for this topic are: caffeine, academic achievement and teenagers

Once you have your keywords, you are ready to being your search.

Putting the Keyword Together

Some library resources will need you to develop searches differently. For example, look at the example below. In Summon you can search putting all the keywords in one line but the database Academic Search Complete requires you use AND between the keywords. You will learn more about Summon and databases in later modules.

AND - links search terms together.

The power of synonyms

Include synonyms in your search whenever possible. Databases only bring back results which contain the exact words you typed in. If you don't include synonyms you could miss a great deal of relevant material.

For example, if you are researching a candy-related topic you may think of the following alternate words to use in your search:

Keyword Synonyms Developing a Search
Candy Confectionery
Connect the synonyms using OR. Some sources will look different but OR will always be used to connect synonyms together. Remember to put the synonyms in brackets.
Snack Foods