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Wineberg - English 101 - Fall 2023: Search Strategy

Finding Keywords

It is very important to have a variety of keywords to search. This is because some terms will yield more results than others and/or results that are more relevant to your research paper topic. There is no one "correct" search word to use. Different keywords will give you more results:

  • When searching the the catalog and databases for sources, do not type in whole sentences
  • Look at your readings for ideas on topics. Write down possible search terms to use in the databases
  • Think of words that mean the same or something similar as your topic and try those words too
  • You may need to broaden or narrow  your search terms depending on your results
  • Try your search terms in different combinations to get the greatest number of results
  • Look at the suggested keywords when using the databases
  • Go to Google and/or Google Scholar and look at suggested searches


We use filters because nobody has time to go through thousands upon thousands of results.

  • Resource type
  • Creation date
  • Peer reviewed
  • Language

Boolean Operators

Use AND to combine keywords and phrases or concepts when searching the electronic databases for articles:

  •  African American women AND Birth control 

Use OR to expand with synonyms:

Birth control OR Contraceptives


Truncation, Wildcards, and Quotes

If you don't use truncation, wildcards, and/or quotation marks, some databases will look for an exact match to the words you type, and you may miss some relevant materials.

Truncation (asterisk):


Child* brings up child, children, childhood, and any other word that starts with the root "child." This works in most of the databases.

Wildcards (usually a question mark or exclamation point):

globali?ation and analysis

Globali?ation brings up items with the words globalization or globalisation.

Quotation Marks:

 "Birth control" AND African American women AND United States

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