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MKTG 335 Fennell: General Search Strategies

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Keyword development: what search terms to use to find relevant resources

Connecting your keywords or phrases: specify how you want the search engine to interpret your keywords


Keyword Development

KEYWORDS are the parts of a research question/topic/statement that carry the most meaning. They specify what it is exactly that you are interested in researching.

Craft your search using KEYWORDS that relate to your topic, rather than a full phrase or sentence.

  • Original search: the success of bike sharing services on college campuses
  • Keywords to pull from this:
    • bike sharing
    • college
    • campuses
    • success (?) -- This keyword may or may not be useful because it is predicting an effect. Articles demonstrating the failure of this service would still benefit your research, so be careful not to bias the results with these kinds of keywords.

Flesh out your search by brainstorming synonyms or other topical words that relate to your research. You may find that some words in your original statement are already very similar in meaning, and could be redundant. The more synonyms you have for each keyword, the more results you will get.

  • bike sharing
    • bike share, bikes, plus other terms for similar services...
  • college
    • add to below -- meaning is attached to the word "campus"
  • campuses
    • campus, college, university...


Finally, connect these keywords together using BOOLEAN OPERATORS. See the following box for more information on this...

  • bike share AND college campus
  • bike shar* AND (college OR university) AND campus
  • (bike shar* OR bikes) AND service* AND (college OR university) AND campus
    • Using an asterisk* at the end of a truncated word, like shar*, will search all possible endings of that word (share, sharing)

Connecting your keywords or phrases

Boolean operators tell the search engine how to connect your keywords together, and significantly affect the search results.

"Quotation marks" - Use quotation marks around a phrase you want kept together.

e.g., "Organizational behavior"

Asterisk* - Use at the end of a word stem to search all possible endings of a word.

e.g., organization* will search organizational, organizations, organization...

e.g., manage* will search management, manager, manage, manages...

AND - Use between keywords or phrases when you want every result to include them.

e.g., "Organizational behavior" AND stress AND manage*

OR - Use between keywords or phrases when you don't care which term is included in a result, so long as at least one of them appears. This is most often used when you string together words of similar meaning to capture more search results, or if you aren't sure which research area to focus on.

e.g., diversity OR inclusion OR discrimination

e.g., stress OR strain OR "emotional distress"

(Parentheses) - To prevent misreading your search, use parentheses to enclose OR strings.

e.g., "management practices" AND (stress OR strain) AND (workplace OR employer OR organization)

NOT - Use to designate specific words or phrases you do NOT want included in your search results. Useful if you need to refine your search after getting too many irrelevant results.

e.g., stress AND (employer OR workplace OR organization) NOT diet

Search Filters

Search Filters or Options allow you to further narrow down your search results. Search Options are often available to select when you initially enter in your search terms (such as on an Advanced Search page). Search Filters appear when you are on the search results screen, and are usually on the left-hand side of the page.

Some example filters or options include:

  • Type of document or source you are looking for (an article, report, biography, book review, etc.)
  • Publication date of the source (often as a range)
  • Subject
  • Research method used by the author (qualitative, quantitative, empirical, etc.)
  • & more

The above filters are usually menus where you select the option(s) you want included. Another filter you will see is more of a check-box -- either you want that item included or you don't. This is where you will see the filter for Scholarly or Peer-Reviewed articles.