ENG 2100T: Writing I - Prof. Corva

Three Minute Tutorial on Searching with Keywords

Created by Leonard Lief Library, Lehman College, CUNY

Two Minute Tutorial on Basic Search

Tips for Searching Databases

Choose a Subject Database. Start your search with a multidisciplinary database like Academic Search or choose a database for your subject.


Brainstorm Keywords.  Break your research question down into one or more concepts. Use keywords to describe each concept.


Use  AND, OR, and NOT to link keywords in your search.  AND will narrow a search. Or will broaden a search. 

AND    Keywords combined with AND will retrieve records only where both terms appear.

AND is used to narrow a search

Example:   Avon AND strategy

OR    Keywords combined with OR will retrieve records where either one or both terms appear.

OR is used to broaden a search 

Example:   competition OR competitors 

Phrase Searching. You must put quotes around a phrase. Example: "global warming"


Truncate Your Keywords.  Search for plurals or other variant endings of a word by adding an asterisk at the end of the word stem.

Example: Downsiz* will retrieve downsized or downsizing

Example: wom*n will retrieve woman or women

Be Careful: cat* will retrieve cats, category, catastrophe


Search with Fields.  Look for a drop-down menu next to the keyword box and select a "Field"  to target your search. Expand your search with the "Full Text" field or select the field for Title, Abstract, Company Name, or Subject.


Be Creative. Your mental attitude plays a big part in designing and executing a successful search. Explore. Don't give up if your first search fails. Be patient. Use more than one database. Ask a Librarian for help.