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ESL 924 Carey: Searching

The Basics!

What's a "source"?

What's an article database?

Why use an article database instead of Google?

How is using an article database different than searching Google?

Natural language vs Keyword searching

A natural language search is a search using regular spoken language, such as English. Using this type of search you can ask the database a question or you can type in a sentence that describes the information you are looking for.

A keyword search finds the word or phrase you choose in any field of the article database.

Keyword Search Example

Why do we need to use keywords?

Sample Research Question: Why does fracking in California need to stop?   

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of oil and gas production that involves blasting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure deep into the earth. Fracking breaks up rock formations to allow oil and gas extraction. But it can also pollute local air and water and endanger wildlife and human health.

1. Find keywords that best describe each idea in your research question (the main concepts in your question).

2. Then find synonyms for each keyword.

Keywords: fracking, hydraulic fracturing 

Keywords: stop, cease, end, ban, banned

Keywords: natural gas

Keyword: California

3. A thesaurus is a book that helps you find synonyms.

How to use keywords to search for articles

Use a thesaurus if you need help finding academic vocabulary for your searches.

Using OR between words broadens your search. You will get MORE results.

Using AND between words narrows your search and gives you more specific, but FEWER results.

Adding an asterisk (SHIFT + 8 = *) to the root of a word will search for variations of that word. For example:



Lastly, using quotations around two words will retrieve those search words together as a phrase: For example:


Keyword Handout/Exercise