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.
|The effects of beauty product advertisements on 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 is used between keywords to find
results that contain all of the keywords
|propaganda AND china
|OR is used between keywords that are synonymous to find results that contain either keyword
|violence OR aggression
|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
|The asterisk - * - is used to truncate a word to find results with various endings
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: