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UGS 302: Science and Diplomacy - Orbach

Develop Keywords

Develop Keywords

Keywords help you search for and locate information. When searching, it's important to have a variety of keywords to try. Saying something in a different way or using a different keyword can help you find a variety of sources. Keywords are especially important when you are searching in databases since databases require more exact terms and phrases than Google. 

Here are some steps to help you get started developing keywords. You can also use this interactive tool to help you develop keywords.

  1. Write down your topic
  2. Identify key concepts in your topic
  3. For each concept, brainstorm related terms and concepts
    • Tip: Related terms and concepts can be broad or narrow. 

Keywords examples: 

  • Topic: California drought 
    • Tip: Think of the causes and effects of a drought to brainstorm keywords.
    • Tip: Think of other ways of talking about California (broad and narrow words) and droughts to brainstorm keywords. 
Concept California  Drought 
Related terms and concepts West coast, Western Unites States, Los Angeles Water conservation, water crisis, climate change, global warming, agriculture, wildfire

Now combine your keywords using AND and OR

  • AND narrows your results by looking for materials with all the words so you get fewer results
  • OR broadens your results by looking for materials with any of the words so you get more results

Example: 

  • California AND Drought OR Water Crisis  
  • Western United States AND Global Warming OR Climate Change  

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Searching with Keywords

You can use keywords to help to refine a search. 

  • If your search returns too many results, try the following
    • Add additional keywords using AND to narrow your results down
    • Try using a narrow keyword (instead of "Sub Saharan Africa" search for a specific country like Somalia)
  • If your search returns too few results, try the following: 
    • Add additional keywords using OR to broaden out your results
    • Try using a broad keyword (instead of just searching "Flint Water Crisis" search for "America Water Crisis")

Remember to always try searching with different keywords so you can find as much information as possible. 

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