Once you have developed keywords for each concept, to conduct the actual search you will want to combine these keywords using standard search operators: AND, OR and NOT. Doing so allows you to broaden or narrow your search as appropriate. There is usually no one perfect combination of keywords and you will likely run multiple searches. Consider the illustrated combination of keywords, and search operators (AND, OR, NOT) for the following:
“Choose one aboriginal group and discuss its challenges in asserting control over ancestral land”
A search using this combination will return results that include resources where aboriginals, ancestral lands and autonomy (or their related keywords) are present, but will exclude from those results any resources where the keyword United States is present. See the Combining Keywords Worksheet located in Resources for Research Strategies for more examples.
Review the sections below to learn more about the use of search operators.
Used to exclude sources containing certain keywords from your search. Results in a narrower search and fewer results. In the example, aboriginals NOT United States will return results for resources in which the keyword aboriginals is present but the keyword United States is not present.