Choosing effective search terms


The terms/phrases you use in online searching will determine the quality and quantity of the information you find. Also, most library databases require specific search terms (not sentences). Following these tips should prove useful:

From your research question, for example, "How can stem cells be used to combat diseases?" identify the main ideas or key concepts. These become your search terms. In our example, the key concepts are 1) stem cells, and 2) diseases.

Be sure to brainstorm for synonymous terms (stem cell research, medical conditions) for each concept as well as broader (genetic engineering, medicine) and narrower terms (embryonic stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, cancer, HIV, arthritis).

Think of popular phrases that refer to your topic.

As your research progresses, you will discover new term(s) for improving your search results.

Now click on the back arrow to select Boolean Operators.