1. Identify key concepts
2. Find synonyms
3. Use search operators
Once you have defined your focused topic, you need to identify the key concepts to prepare a search strategy to use in different search tools.
Here are a few examples:
The effects of beauty product advertisements on teenage girls' self-esteem.
beauty product advertisements
The impact of media coverage and public opinion polling on election campaigns.
The success of environmental groups in shaping the public policy agenda in Canada.
| environmental groups
public policy agenda
For each key concept, find synonyms that will be useful when performing keyword searches.
|TOPIC||The effects of beauty product advertisements on teenage girls' self-esteem|
|KEY CONCEPTS||beauty products||advertisements||teenage girls||self-esteem|
To help find synonyms, consider using a thesaurus:
To find relevant information, you need to translate your topic into a search strategy.
Here is a list of the most common search operators:
|AND||AND is used between keywords to find
results that contain all of the keywords
|propaganda AND china|
|OR||OR is used between keywords that are synonymous to find results that contain either keyword||violence OR aggression|
|NOT||NOT is used to exclude a keyword from the results||cloning NOT sheep|
|" "||Quotation marks - " " - are used to find results for exact phrases or expressions||"human rights"|
|*||The asterisk - * - is used to truncate a word to find results with various endings||environment*
will find environments,
environmental, environmentally, etc.
|( )||Parentheses - ( ) - are used to group keywords by concept||(teenage* OR adolescen*) AND (cigarette* OR nicotine OR tobacco)|
Operators may vary from tool to tool. Consult specific help pages within the catalogues and databases for more information.
Use this worksheet to help you prepare your search: