A Different Way To Do Keyword Research


This article will explain how to create effective keyword searches in library databases. The first thing to know is that library databases usually require you to search in a particular way. Google uses natural language searching, along with unique search algorithms, to give you search results. This is great when it works well, but it’s not very precise. While some library databases also use natural language searching, it’s not available in all of them. So, it’s best to learn the method that works in ALL library databases instead.


This search method is called Boolean and it uses connecting words, such as AND, OR, and NOT, to join your keywords. In databases, if you type “how to use social media in a business”, you may not get any results at all. Instead, you want to pull out the important and necessary words and join those with the connector AND. For the example search, you could put: social media AND business. In this case, “how to use” and “in a” are not going to add anything to your search. Why is this? An important thing to remember is that the more words you include in the search box, the fewer results that you’ll get.

This is one reason that the original search does not work well. The database is looking for the words that you put in the box and trying to match them with words in the database record or article text. If you have a lot of extra words, an article that matches your topic exactly may not show up, because it does not contain a word that you included in your search, but is unimportant to your main idea. Choose highly relevant words only and your search should give you more of what you’re looking for. Another thing to know is that many databases will look for words next to each other with no connectors and search that as a phrase.

So if I type: social media business, some databases will try to find those words next to each other. Sometimes you want to make sure that the words stay together, like in the case of “social media”. In this case, put quotes around the words to tell the database to keep those words together: “social media” AND business. This works in Google, as well. If you have questions about creating effective database searches, contact your college librarian for assistance..