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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.

Search Tips & Tricks for Keyword Searching

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.

Using an astericks (SHIFT 8 = *) on a work will give you more variations of that same word:

For example:



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

For example:




Keyword Handout/Exercise

How Can We Help You?

Welcome to the Cañada College Library!  We can help you find information for your class assignments from many different sources, including Books, Articles, and Websites.


Ask a Librarian

Ask a Librarian any questions about doing research, finding information, and citing sources.

Research Appointment

Need help with your works cited or research paper? Make an appointment with one of our librarians.


  • Monday-Thursday:  8 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Fridays: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.