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MTH 241: Statistics I (WO): Search Strategy

Identify Keywords

To perform searches, you will need keywords.



Let's practice brainstorming keywords by looking at a sample topic... Why are cancer rates higher among African Americans?

First we'll eliminate irrelevant words.  The databases will search for every word that you type into the searchbox, so try to keep your search simple - just a few words. 

Why are cancer rates higher among African Americans?

When you eliminate the irrelevant words from your research question, you should be able to spot major concepts.  The two major concepts in our example are cancer rates and African Americans.

Now, let's take each of those and come up with as many synonyms (or related ideas) as we can.

cancer rates – cancer, health, healthcare disparities

African Americans – Black, race, racial

Create a Search Strategy

Next, combine any one of the keywords from each group using AND. 


1.      "African American" AND cancer

2.      race AND "cancer rates"

3.      "healthcare disparities" and cancer

Different combinations of search terms will give you very different results, so you may want to try several different search strategies to see which gives you the best results.

Developing a Search Strategy Helpsheet

With this helpsheet, you can develop an effective search strategy that will save you time and retrieve better results!