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Advice for effective KEYWORD searching article oriented databases & library catalogs
There are 6 central concepts that are important to grasp, in order build an effective KEYWORD search strategy in any article oriented database OR library catalog:
- #1: If you have a MULTI WORD PHRASE you need to treat it differently - treat it like a mathematical expression, and put it inside a set of PARENTHESES: For example: Military Industrial Complex ===> (Military Industrial Complex)
- #2: Meaningful use of synonyms - do not search for just one word, to cover your core concept. Try to include synonyms & unique phrases that are closely allied with your prinicpal area of focus. Separate each of the synonyms with the OR command: For example: Child abuse ===> (Child abuse) OR (Abused children) OR (Sexual abuse) OR (Sexually abused) OR (Physical abuse) OR (Physically abused) OR (Emotional abuse) OR (Emotionally abused)
- #3: Using WILDCARDS for variety of words that have similar starting point of spelling - do not search for just one word, if there are an entire family of words that all have the same base word. The ASTERISK "*" is the wildcard to use most article oriented databases. For example: Econom* will automatically pull in: Econometric OR Econometrically OR Economic OR Economically OR Economize OR Economizing
- #4: If you are trying to focus on a specific Geography, you really need to search for both the Name of the country / city / region, as well as searching for the People of that county / city / region, and sometimes adding in the name of their language. For example, if you want to only focus on your topic in Holland, then you should formulate that component as ==> ( Holland OR Netherlands OR Dutch )
- #5: If you have a HYPHENATED WORD you need to search for it both WITH and WITHOUT the hyphen:: For example: Multi-National Corporations ===> (mutli-national corporations) OR (mutlinational corporations)
- #6: Understanding the searching options of that particular database -- if your database has the capability of specifying a unique field to search, try looking for your topic under the SUBJECT umbrella. For example: an ordinary search as contasted against a subject only search
For some research toptics, the difference in the number of articles retrieved between these two simple options could be 4 to 1!
Gary Klein (librarian for AGSM)
, Civic Communication & Media
, Politics, Policy, Law and Ethics
, Rhetoric & Media Studies