Skip to Main Content

Prof. Maroney - 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 synonyms, antonyms, and related terms
  • 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 narrow your search results when searching the electronic databases for articles:

  •  Self-driving cars AND safety 

Use OR to expand your search results:

Self-driving cars AND safety OR danger


Use NOT to exclude certain search results:

Self-driving cars NOT Tesla


*Note: operators must be in all caps.


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 (*):


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

Wildcards (? or !):


brings up items with the words globalization or globalisation.

Quotation marks ( " " ):

 "community college"

brings up only results that contain those exact words in that exact order, not results that contain only one of the terms

Celebrating 75 Years of Excellence!

Westchester Community College provides accessible, high quality and affordable education to meet the needs of our diverse community. We are committed to student success, academic excellence, workforce development, economic development and lifelong learning.

Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

75 Grasslands Road
Valhalla, NY 10595
Tel: (914) 606-6600