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Spring '24 - EDUC 1300 - Almanza 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.  You can get help thinking of more keywords by using a keyword generator website or an AI tool.

  • 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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