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ESL Reading & Writing III,IV,VI

Using keywords to search

Using Keywords

Using our library database when searching for articles does not work like using a typical search engine.  A library database will look for all the words you put into the search box, exactly how you have typed them.  A typical search engine though will ignore some of the words you have typed into the search box, or look for words that are close to your word or term when performing your search.

So if you typed into a library database:

Why are children more overweight?

The library database will literally look for ALL the following words: 

Why Are Children More Overweight

Words like WHY, ARE, and MORE are unneeded in your search and could complicate the results.

Instead, we should identify the main concepts of our search.  These can be the parts of our search that are most important, or that do not describe another part of our thesis statement. These concepts are called keywords and these are the words that we use to search with.

Children Overweight Causes

Using Synonyms

A synonym is a word that is similar to your keywords.  Not everyone uses the same words to describe the same concept and we want to make sure that we do not miss important sources.

For example, we can use other words for Overweight:

Obesity Fat Large

Putting it all together

By adding an OR to each keyword or using the drop down box to the left, the database will search for sources that contain either term. This allows us to use multiple synonyms in the same search.

 

By adding an AND to each keyword or using the drop down box to the left, the database will search for sources where both items appear. The allows us to narrow our search down using multiple main terms together.

Still having trouble coming up with some keywords to use?  Try using this worksheet from UConn to point you in the right direction.

Creating a Research Question

For more complex researching or if you are taking an advanced course, you may need to create a Research Question. 

This method is prodominently used in the Science field, but can be applied to most research

PICO stands for Patient, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome

By answering these four questions below, the answers will be useful for our searches 

P.I.C.O.

Questions

Answers

P = Patient or Population

Who is the focus of this study?

Children

I = Intervention

What do you want to see changed?

Reducing Sugar

C = Comparison (Optional)

What is another way to change an outcome?

Exercising

O = Outcome

What would result in these changes?

Decrease in obesity

Using PICO to develop a keyword search

In this case, the PICO method resulted in several answers that can be used as keywords

Children Reducing Sugar Exercising (Optional) Decrease Obesity

We can combine those keywords into a strong research question: 

Without Comparison With Comparison
Does reducing sugar result in a decrease in obesity?

Does reducing sugar compared to exercising result in a decrease in obesity? 

By taking those keywords and adding them into separate search bars, you can get very precise results for your advanced search.