Skip to main content

SOC 201/202: Intro to Sociology (WO): Search Strategy

Identify Keywords

To perform searches, you will need keywords.



Let's practice brainstorming keywords by looking at a sample topic... What socialization mechanisms help college students form a group identity?

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. 

What socialization mechanisms help college students form a group identity?

When you eliminate the irrelevant words from your research question, you should be able to spot major concepts.  The three major concepts in our example are socialization mechanisms, college students and group identity.

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

Socialization - socialize, socializes, socialized, norms, norm-setting, morality

College Students - college, university, undergraduate, education, adults

Group Identity - group, identity, collective identity, collective action


Create a Search Strategy

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


1.       socialization AND "college students" AND "group identity"

2.      norm-setting AND undergraduate AND identity

3.      socialization AND "higher education"

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.

Search Strategy Tip

To search for a word with many variations, use an asterisk [*].  For example, use child* to search for child, children or childhood - any word that begins with c-h-i-l-d.

Socializ* =