Try these advanced search techniques for better results.
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase
["Civil war"] will bring back only results that have the word civil next to the word war. This way you wont get results about civil disputes or the War on Terror.
Add an * at the end of a word to search for all possible endings/suffixes
[teen*] will search for teen, teens, teenager, teenagers
Use Boolean operators AND or OR
[Chicken AND beef] will search for results that have both chicken and beef in them, resulting in fewer matches
[Chicken OR beef] will search for results that have either chicken or beef, resulting in more matches
Tip: If you have any questions about using these advanced search techniques, contact the business librarian.
Before you dive in, you might want to sketch out a "mind map" of your research idea. Think about key concepts about your topic and ways this could be described. For example racial justice could also be talked about as racial equality, racial equity, or social justice, climate change is often discussed as global warming, free speech is often described as first amendment rights or censorship, teenagers are also referred to as adolescents, teens, youth, etc. Using different concepts can focus or expand your research results.
Think about why this matters to you and why it matters to your reader. Good starting question to ask yourself: Who is impacted? What is happening and why? What are the causes? What are the consequences or results? How could things be different? Finally, and very important, always ask and answer in your paper or presentation: So What? Answering all these questions helps your focus your topic, come up with keywords, get your point across and (bonus!) makes your research more interesting.
Here is a short video (about 2 minutes) from Kansas University that gives further insight into key and related (alternate) terms:
Tip: Keep in mind that keywords are tricky, they will evolve and you'll likely come across better ones as you begin searching. The more you search and learn about your topic, the easier it will be to develop keywords.
Topic: The Great Depression
This video explains more on building good "search strings". "Search strings" are literally how keywords are strung together to focus your search.
Clackamas Community College, "Create better searches with AND, OR, & NOT"
Use these tips when you search in WWCC Library databases. Your search results will be more focused and relevant to your topic!
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Need help with too many or too few results? You know what to do! Call, email, chat with, or stop by and see a librarian!