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ENG 111: College Comp I - The Trial (WO): Search Strategy

Identify Keywords

To perform searches, you will need keywords.

             

Key

Let's practice brainstorming keywords by looking at a sample topic... Lizzie Borden was found not guilty because a nineteenth century jury could not believe a woman would commit such violent murders.

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. 

Lizzie Borden was found not guilty because a nineteenth century jury could not believe a woman would commit such violent murders.

When you eliminate the irrelevant words from your research question, you should be able to spot major concepts.  The major concepts in our example are Lizzie Borden, not guilty, 19th century and woman.

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

Lizzie Borden

not guilty - verdict, guilt, crime, violence, murder

19th century - 1800s, Gilded Age

woman - gender, gender roles

Create a Search Strategy

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

EXAMPLES:

1.      Lizzie Borden AND verdict AND gender

2.      Lizzie Borden AND gender AND nineteenth century

3.      Lizzie Borden AND jury and woman

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!