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Advanced Search Techniques


Search Terms

Search terms can simply be what comes to your mind when you think of a research topic or they can be more precise disciplinary terms. For example, if you are conducting research on healthcare for the elderly, you might search just that, health care for the elderly, or you might search the disciplinary term, geriatric medicine

Determining your search terms is part of the research process and is, as with using techniques like limiters and Boolean operators, experimental in nature. Beginning the searching process by using terms that come to mind will help you brainstorm new search terms while looking at subject headings in your search results can help you gain insight into disciplinary terminology. Searching your terms list in a variety of combinations and with a variety of other searching techniques is the next step.

Brainstorming Search Terms Example

When you begin the searching process it is good to brainstorm terms and then, as you search those terms and discover new ones, add them to your list. One way to start is to make a list of terms that come to mind and then list related terms. Related terms can be similar terms and synonyms. Because some terms are inextricably linked to opposing terms, e.g., abolition/slavery and divorce/marriage, terms can also be antonyms. 

Here are some terms that might be used for researching the connection between gentrification and hipster culture.  

Original Term Related Term
Gentrification urban development, urban redevelopment, urban renewal
Class social class, poverty, wealth, lower class, middle class, upper class
Affordable housing  low-income housing, discrimination, redlining
Hipster culture youth culture, popular culture
Capitalism neoliberalism, economic system, free market