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St Peters Lutheran College Langer Library website: SPLC databases

Keyword selection for searching databases. Quick tips.


 Think about the subject descriptors, keywords and phrases you are going to use, and how you are going to use them to search for information on the database.  


Subject descriptors and keywords can be broad, to search for more general information, or narrow, for more specific information. When searching a database:

  • remember to put  common phrases in double quotation marks, for example "climate change”; 

  • keep your search simple by combining a few keywords using a stringFor exampleif you were researching climate change in Australia, you would enter the terms "climate change" Australia.  Alternatively you can use the boolean operator AND to combine your keywords, for example, "climate change" and Australia;

  • think about alternative or associated keywords you can use.  For example, if you were searching for information on "Global warming" think about the concept which refers to the rise on the Earths temperature due to "carbon emissions" or more broadly "greenhouse gasses".  All of these keywords then become possible keywords for research.  Even more broadly, the concept of "climate change", which refers to global or regional changes in climate, becomes a potential keyword for research as does the terminology "carbon footprint" or "fossil fuels";

  • be careful not to go too broad with your keywords, as you may spend a lot of time sifting though documents that are not on point or relevant to your research.  It is a good idea to start your research for information by using the specific keywords first and if you cant find anything, then go broader.

Think about using the Advanced search templates in each of the databases.  These will lead you through and help you structure your search, and increase the relevance of your retrieved list of resources.  

As your research progresses, you will refine and add to your keyword list and you may have to do some extra searches in the database.