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Subject guides

Library Services for Studying Online: Search tips

Tips for searching

  • Phrasemarks ensure that you only find results where those words are together in that order e.g. “distance learners”
  • An asterisk will search for any group of letters e.g. learn* will find learns, learn, learning, learners etc
  • A question mark will search for one letter e.g. wom?n will find women and woman

Improving your search results using AND and OR

This YouTube video is great as a refresher on Boolean searching techniques.

Identify your keywords

To begin your research, identify the major keywords that will help you find relevant information. Then, think of alternative search terms or synonyms: e.g. physical activity may also be referred to as physical exercise, and diet may also be referred to as nutrition.

If you cannot think of any other terms, read a few articles on Summon, or read items on your reading list, and look at the keywords used in these. Be creative and think around your topic.

The video below will give you some guidance on picking out keywords from your assignment question, and on the importance of using synonyms.

Listen to a conversation about keywords