Estimate Time: 15 minutes
Search engines like Google use bots 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 ebooks and article databases are restricted by their license and you cannot access them through Google.
The library’s search engine (Search Everything) and its licensed databases search for the books, articles etc., that the library has purchased. They search by the relevance of your keywords. This is why choosing different words is important as the author might be using the synonym of your keyword.
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).
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.
1. Keywords are the most important words in your topic
Is the petroleum industry contributing to climate change in Canada?
= Petroleum industry
= Climate change
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”
Research Question: What are the effects of rising oil prices on the economy of Canada?
|Keyword 1: Oil prices||Synonyms: Gas, gasoline, petroleum, fossil fuels, cost, expenses|
|Keyword 2: Economy||Synonyms: Economic impact, financial impact|
|Keyword 3: Canada||
Synonyms: There is no synonym for Canada, but you could
narrow your topic to a province like Alberta
Research Question: "What motivates University students to complete online coursework?"
When you have a two word keyword (like First Nations or Social Media) use quotation marks around the two words - "Social Media". This keeps the two words together in your search results. Otherwise you might get results that look for the two words separately and not sequentially.
Search Engines like the Library's Search Everything and our various subject databases have limiters on the search page and the results page. Limiters will allow you to limit your results to the type of resources (books, peer reviewed, newspapers etc), the publication date range, the subject area and the language of the resource, just to name a few. Always check out the limiters when searching.
Let's say you have a research essay on the benefits of exercise for older adults.
Type the following keywords into the Search Everything Box below:
Next try the same search using synonyms for the keywords:
1. Was there a difference in titles ?
2. Were they still on the same topic? The benefits of exercise for older adults?