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Getting Started with Research: Keywords

Keywords Are Key!

When you search in academic databases including MCC Library OneSearch, keywords will give you better search results. Try keywords (or search words) rather than typing in a long phrase such as "all the research that shows evidence to prove there's no life on the moon." So many unnecessary words!

A better search would use keywords and look like this: "life on the moon" and research

Try even more search techniques, such as using truncation with keywords or using parentheses to group your search terms or putting phrases in quotes.

A Step-by-step Sample Search

1.When you search library resources, you'll need to change your research question into keywords or search words, like this:

Question: Is there any connection between legal drinking age and crime rates?

Start with just a few important words from your question. These are your initial search words: drinking age, crime 

2. To find many forms of a search word, for example to find either crime or crimes or criminal, use an * after the beginning of the word (this is called truncation):

crim* (will find crime, crimes, criminal but also Crimea, so think about the possibilities when you use truncation)

3. Use "  " to keep words together as a phrase: "drinking age" 

4. Link your terms with

"AND" to find articles that mention all of your search words, 

"OR" to find any of a list of similar words, putting those words inside ( ):

 "drinking age" and (crim* or violen* or felon* or misdemeanor*)

Now you're ready to search!

Research 101: Searching Is Strategic (3:14)

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