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* Toolbox Information literacy skills: Search, Find and Evaluate Sources: Finding search terms/keywords

Searching,finding, evaluating and managing sources made easy

Kick off: Finding search terms/keywords

On this page, you will find videos and practical tools to help you generate search terms/keywords from the questions you formulated. You need a keyword or a search term if you want to find relevant literature in our library catalog or in one of the databases. First of all, it is necessary to define your search term or keyword otherwise your search on the Internet or in any database for that matter will become a disappointing enterprise. With a more targeted search, you will get better and more rewarding results.




Why is it important to define search terms and how will this help you with your search strategy

To find relevant literature in our catalog or in one of our databases you need search terms. You can find these terms in various ways:

1. You can start brainstorming on your topic (see the worksheets under In the atelier) using the knowledge you already have about the subject. Write down all new terms you come across.

2. In the orientation phase, you can use printed or online encyclopedias, handbooks, and subject guides. Use the tables of contents and indexes of handbooks to find more information. At the NHLStenden Library, you can find encyclopedias, handbooks, etc. The Electronic databases link on the Library website gives you access to e-books and encyclopedias. And you can search Discovery Service for more information. With this information, you can continue your search.

3. In the databases, we use at NHLStenden e.g. PubMed or  ERIC, you can use the thesaurus to check if the database is familiar with your search terms and you can look for new search terms or synonyms of the search term. In a thesaurus, you will often find other terms (broader as well as more specific) that relate to the term you are looking for.

4. Apply the synonyms for the search terms you have found in the thesaurus of the database. Where possible, use different spellings of the search terms and use translations in case you want to use literature in other languages.

5. Try using the terms in Discovery Service or another database, and look at the full record of a title (title, abstract, subject headings or keywords) to find new ideas for search terms.

The following two browsers can help you find synonyms for keywords that you already have.

Watch these two videos to learn what Boolean operators are how this can help you in your search for information to answer your questions. Boolean operators can be used most effectively once you have a clear idea about your search terms/keywords. 

Perhaps you want to combine search terms or make sure that the information you seek is relevant to your research. The videos will explain to you how you can add words and build search strings to find articles that are relevant to your research.

Practical tools for determining search terms/keywords based on your questions and how to use these in your search

This worksheet will help you distill keywords/search terms from your research question. It forces you to look closely at your question to see which keywords can help you to find answers to your question.

You can download the file below.

The PICO worksheet is a tool that can be very useful in assessing the research question and the search terms that are part of the question. 

You can download the file below.