Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Information Literacy for Tier 2 Courses

This is an information literacy guide for students taking Tier II courses. Students will learn how to access, identify, evaluate, and use information accurately and ethically.

Finding Search Terms

Once you decide on your topic, write down as many related words and ideas about your topic/concepts.It is much easier to formulate a search strategy if you have a list of search terms to work with. What are the main words that describe your sujbect and what do you want to say about it? Avoid phrases while searching.

If you are writing a paper on how social media influences teenagers, the main concepts in your thesis will be "social media", "influence" and" teenagers". Brainstorm different synonyms (words that mean the same thing as your search terms) that are associated with each of these concepts. 

For example, other terms associated with social media are "social networking" "online networking", "social tools", "online communication tools" or you could use specific social networking tools such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Twitter, Bebo, Linkedin, etc. Anotherr search term that could be used for "influence" is "effect". A relevant search terms for "teenagers" could be "adolescents".

Here are some search strategies for this paper topic:

A simple search would be "social media and influence and teenagers". The "and" between each search term helps to narrow or restrict the search and finds results that contain all of the search terms. If the search terms you use do not produce relevant results you may need to use alternative search terms.

A more complex search would be (social media or soical networking) and (influence or effect) and (teenagers or adolescents). The use of "or" with synonymous terms broadens the search and provides more results. It retrieves one or the other or all of the terms that are being searched.

Use the Search Strategy Builder on the right to help you with your search.

Search Strategy

The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.

  Concept 1 AND Concept 2 AND Concept 3
Name your concepts here    
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words or short phrases

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

Now copy and paste the above Search Strategy into the database search box.

The Search Strategy Builder was developed by the University of Arizona Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons License.