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Research Help Guide: Find sources with keywords

Using keywords to search (Video)

From Seneca Libraries (Open Captions)

Boolean Explained (Infographic)

Quick Summary: Using Keywords

1. Keywords are the most important words in your topicdecorative

  • Is the petroleum industry contributing to climate change in Canada?

        = petroleum industry + climate change + Canada


2. Also think of other words or phrases related to your topic (Synonyms).

  • Climate change = global warming

  • Petroleum = oil

*A concept map can help you come up with related terms to your topic


3. Search again and again using different keywords! 


4. Use the limiters available like “Peer Reviewed” or “Date Range”


More Information:

Advanced Search (Boolean) Tips

Searching with Keywords (Video)

Find Articles

Find Books

Why Keywords Matter - Searching is a Skill

How Searching Works:

Search engines like Google us 'bots' or 'spiders' to seek out pages on the Internet and index them, so when you search Google finds the right page. While Google is great at finding local sushi restaurants, items like library databases are restricted by their license and they will not show up in your search.


The library’s search engine (Search Everything) and its databases search for the books, articles etc., that the library has purchased. They search by relevance of your keywords. This is why choosing different words is important as the author might be using the synonym of your keyword.   


Searching is repetitive:

You will not find everything you need in one search. You have to try different words and search strategies and different library search tools (e.g databases).


Be prepared to narrow or expand your topic

  • Too many results - narrow your topic by adding a term (e.g Climate Change add Canada)
  • To few results -  expand your topic by removing or expanding a term (e.g Air Pollution AND Toronto - change Toronto to Ontario)

Listing or mapping out your keywords and related terms at the beginning of your search will save you time.

Another technique is to notice the terms being used by the sources you do find. Use those terms in your next search.

Advanced Search Techniques

Creating A Search Strategy with Boolean Logic

Here are some simple search techniques that can increase the relevance of your results and save you a lot of time.

You can use them on TMU Library’s website and on search sites like Google.


Step 1:  Pick your keywords

Figure out your Keywords: Your keywords are the main concepts or ideas of your paper.

For example the keywords for a paper on "youth employment in Canada” would be:

  • Youth

  • Employment

  • Canada


Step 2 : Find synonyms

Use related words and phrases (synonyms): There are multiple ways to express the same concept.

Employment can also be:

  • job

  • work

  • career


Youth can be:

  • Adolescents

  • Teenagers

  • Young people


Step 3 : Understanding AND / OR / NOT


Use "AND" and "OR"  (in capitals) to pull you keywords and synonyms together (these are known as Boolean operators)! This way you can search for multiple concepts effectively.


AND = finds sources that contain all keywords

Youth AND Employment AND Canada


OR = finds sources that contain at least one of these keywords

Youth OR teenagers OR young people


NOT = eliminates or ignores a related term that you do not want in your search

Java NOT coffee  (for when you want JAVA the computer language)


Step 4 : Tips and tricks for your keywords

  • Use quotation marks “....”:

If one of your synonyms contains more than one word (e.g., First Nations) use quotation marks (" ") around the whole phrase to ensure the words are searched for together and not separately.

   For Example:  "First Nations" or “personal identity”


Step 5:  Pulling It All Together

Using parentheses ( ), called nesting, to group the related terms. Next, use OR between each related keywords


(Youth OR teenagers OR young people) AND (Employment OR Jobs) AND Canada