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Strategy: Search Terms

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Strategy: Develop Search Terms

Searching is driven by the words we use to conceptualize our topic or inquiry.  Searching requires creativity and persistence! We have a few tips here that may help. 


Step OneConsider your research questions or topic

 State your research question or topic. 

Do video games increase violence in teens?



Step TwoIdentify key words or concepts  

 What are the key concepts? Think nouns and noun phrases.

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun ProjectTip: Get ideas from background research or textbooks.

Example Do video games increase violence  in teens?
Video Games      Violence      Teens


Step OneList Related Terms  

Consider how different people or communities talk about the concept.

Consider how language has changed over time.

Think of broader terms, narrower terms, or synonyms.

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun ProjectTip: Use a thesaurus or chat with a librarian.

Example violence, aggression, shootings, attacks
video games, gaming, gamers, computer games
teen, teens, teenagers


Step FourConsider Using Some Search Tricks

quotations to search phrases.

* an asterisk to find word variations.

AND, OR, NOT to combine terms.  

Example "video games"
aggression OR violence


Search strategies in a few steps
Step 1: State  your research topic: The impact of video games on violence in teens.
Step 2: Identify key terms: video games, teens, violence.
Step 3: Identify related terms. Violence= aggression, shootings, attacks. Video games= gaming, gamers, computer games. Teen= teens, teenagers, adolescents, youth.
Step 4: Apply search tricks
Use or to search for synonyms. Violence or aggression. Combine similar terms with or.
Use * to search word variations. Teen* will retrieve teen, teens, or teenagers.
Combine it all with And.

Keyword sample

Use mindmaps to brainstorm keywords and your topic.

 Mountains by Alice Noir from the Noun Project 

Next Consider Types of Information