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PART II: Using Search Tools to Find Articles - p. 3 of 7


More on Finding Keywords


Here's another example:


Topic: Eating too much fast food is making Americans obese.


Important concept #1: fast food

Synonyms or related words: junk food, McDonald's, Burger King, trans fats, cholesterol


Important concept #2: obesity

Synonyms or related words: fat, overweight, heart disease, diabetes, health


Important concept #3: United States

Synonyms or related words: America, American, US


You see in this example we used a lot of related words. Obviously "trans fats" is not a synonym for "fast food", but it might be terminology related to your research. If you plan to discuss the role of trans fats in fast food, that would be a very good search term. Similarly, if you want to address how obesity contributes to diabetes, use the related word "diabetes". The above example is just one way to plan out this search--someone else writing on the same topic may need different terms to address what they want to say. Only you know what specific issues you want to discuss in your paper, so only you will know what are the best related words to search. Take the time to think about what you plan to say in your paper and craft your search strategy accordingly!



And here is one final example:


Topic: Women should be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding their children and how to overcome potential breastfeeding problems.


Important Concept #1: breastfeeding

Synonyms or related terms: milk, lactation, nursing, formula


Important Concept #2: education

Synonyms or related terms: knowledge, information, learning, awareness, instruction, promotion


Important Concept #3:  benefits

Synonyms or related terms: nutrition, bonding, expense, health, allergies (this list should be determined by what you plan to discuss in your paper)




Important Concept #4: problems

Synonyms or related terms: challenges, latching on, mastitis, positioning, supply (this list should be determined by what you plan to discuss in your paper)


In this example, we see four important concepts. It would be possible to search them all at once, but you might not get the best results because your search is more complicated. (Databases like things simple!) It would probably be best to search just 2-3 terms at a time. If your topic is complex like this one, split it up into components.


For instance, education on the benefits of breastfeeding is one component, and education on the problems of breastfeeding is another. Search terms 1, 2, and 3 in one search, and search terms 1, 2, and 4 in another. This will give you all the information you needed but make your searches more focused. You can then take your new knowledge and combine it to create your own paper. Remember, it is very rare that you only need to do one perfect search! You may need to do quite a few different searches in quite a few different databases to get all the information you need, even for a shorter paper.


You'll notice that the words women and children, which appear in the topic, are not included in the search terms. That is because those terms are implied in a search about breastfeeding, which always involves a woman and a child. Always be on the lookout for words that are important in your topic but unecessary in your search. Many times you won't know that until you dive in and start searching. If you notice that you are getting a lot of articles about animals breastfeeding, for example, you might need to add in a word like woman, mother, human, etc. But until you examine your results, keep it simple.



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