Skip to main content
Accessibility Information
Shapiro Library

Getting Started with Research at Shapiro Library

This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.

Tips for Using Keyword Searching Effectively


When doing a keyword search it's a good idea to try a number of different search terms and phrases. Don't be discouraged if your initial keyword search brings back too many, too few, or irrelevant results--you'll want to try multiple keywords, synonyms for your keywords, different combinations of keywords, etc. to bring back the best results.

As with any search strategy, you may want to consider what keyword searching is most useful for and anything you should be cautious about when using this searching technique:

Most Useful For:

  • Finding resources using "natural language" that describes your topic
  • Very flexible--can easily be combined with other searching techniques

Cautions:

  • May bring back too many, too few, or irrelevant results if keywords are not carefully selected
  • Users should try multiple keywords, combinations of keywords, etc. to bring back the best results

For example, if you are looking for information about the dangers of texting and driving you may start out with keywords like: texting, driving, distracted driving, danger, cellphones, etc.

But you'll also want to try using synonyms for keywords (e.g. cellphones = mobile phones, smartphones, iphone, etc.) and combining keywords (e.g. texting and driving, distracted driving and danger, etc.) to get better, more thorough results.

Choosing Keywords Flowchart