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Economics 101: Search Tips

Search Tips

To turn your research question into keywords, you must look at the main points of your sentence. Pull out the most important words. For example...


 Starting Research Question:
What are the differences between treatments for veterans with PTSD and non-veterans?


The highlighted words would be your first keywords. But you shouldn't stop there! Try to expand upon your keywords using synonyms, antonyms, or abbreviations. You can also add places, dates, names, and smaller connecting topics to your keywords. 

Try using different combinations of these words if you get stuck in your research. Make sure you are also adding to your keyword list as you find new, relevant terms. 

Too Many Results?

NARROW your topic by...

  • Adding Keywords
  • Using more narrow Keywords (ex: physics vs. quantum physics)
  • Using Limiters (Date, Subject Terms, Location)
  • Using PHRASING (ex: "family law" or "anxiety disorder")

Too Few Results? 

BROADEN your topic by...

  • Getting rid of some Keywords (too many can narrow your search too far)
  • Finding the right search terms (some databases are very picky!) 
  • Broadening your general topic 
  • Choosing different databases
  • Using TRUNCATION when a word has various endings, use an asterisk (*) to search all endings (ex: engineer* = engineer, engineering, & engineers) 

Boolean Operators are used in many library databases. These operators are AND, OR, & NOT. They can help you narrow or broaden your search results.

(AND & NOT = Narrow)

(OR = Broad)

How can you tell if a source is reliable while searching? Take a few minutes to consider these questions.

Authority - Who wrote the article? What qualifications or credentials do they have regarding subject? What is the authors point of view? 

Content - What style of writing is used? Why was it written (to inform, persuade, sell, etc) Is it fact or opinion?

Audience - Who is the intended reader? What reading level is the article (advanced, general)?

Relevance - Is the information too general or too in-depth? 

Citation - Is the article properly cited? Does it have a bibliography or footnotes?

DateWhen was the piece published? Has it been updated?

Review Process - Has the article been reviewed by subject specialists?



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