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Spring '24 - EDUC 1100 - Harris - by Kara Dixon: Search Techniques

Keywords vs. Natural Language

Use Keywords in databases- not sentences!

Databases work differently than search engines.  Instead of using natural language, use keywords!  Keywords are the most important words in your topic.

Example topic: What are the benefits of dogs on a person's mental health?


  • benefits
  • dogs
  • "mental health"

Play around with keywords if you need to narrow or broaden your topic.  Brainstorm related terms, synonyms, antonyms, etc.  Or try a keyword generator (below).

  • pets
  • "pet therapy"
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • disadvantages

Online Search Techniques

Combining Keywords

Better Results with Boolean: Using the word "and" between two words will provide results that contain both words.  Example: coffee AND milk.  Using the word "or" between two words returns results that include one or the other word, but not necessarily together.  Example: coffee OR milk.  Using the word "Not" in between two words produces results that contain the first word but not the other.  Example: Coffee NOT milk.  Placing quotation marks around a phrase will search the database for results containing the exact phrase.

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