Keywords + searching = a search strategy

Searching using library tools, like a database, is different from searching Google. Generally you need to connect keywords together to create an effective search strategy. Here are several techniques for connecting keywords:


Using AND in your search connects different ideas or concepts

  • for example: princesses AND “gender roles”


Using OR in your search will include similar concepts or the different ways a topic is discussed

  • for example: teenagers OR adolescents

Phrase searching

Using quotation marks in your search for phrases, or words that belong together

  • For example, “video games” or “social media” or “gender stereotypes” 


Filters narrow your search results by set criteria: publication date, source type (magazine, scholarly, news, etc.), subject area and much more. Decide what is most useful to your topic!

  • For example, a topic of public transportation in Minneapolis might benefit from filtering to certain years of publication

How to put the keywords into a search box

Using these techniques, we can take keywords and put them into a search box. 

Taking keywords from our previous work:

Subtopics from our example

additional keywords found

"gender stereotypes""gender roles""sex roles""gender norms"
"popular media"superhero or superheroineMarvel or superheroDisney or princess
childrenchildyouth"early adolescents"

We enter keywords into a search box:

For this example, we are searching Academic Search Premier. Notice how we don't search every keyword at once. We pick a few from each column at first, then different ones, etc.

example search in Academic Search Premier. In the first search box we have princesses or superheroes. In the next we have gender stereotypes or gender roles. In the third we have child or children or kids or youth.