Before you embark on your database search, take a few moments to identify keywords, which will be a timesaver for you. Some things to try:

  • Write down any research questions you have about your topic; these should be open-ended (starting with How...? or Why...?)
  • Identify the key concepts from your research question (look at the nouns)
  • Write down synonyms for those key concepts

Taking a few minutes to think about and identify some keywords before starting your search will help you search more efficiently, which will save you time (and frustration).

  • Identify important concepts from your research question (look for nouns)
  • Brainstorm some synonyms (to help you find more information)
  • Keep track of useful terms you discover during research and add those to your set of keywords

Ex. research question: How are nutrition programs in California public schools impacting academic performance?

(Identify the keywords in this research question)

How are nutrition programs in California public schools impacting academic performance?

nutrition programs California

public schools

academic performance
healthy eating Los Angeles

elementary school

grades
food insecurity San Diego

middle school 

student achievement
hunger Oakland high school educational outcomes

Tips on searching the databases

Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your report:

Tip Examples
Use keywords, not long search phrases

Instead of searching for "How are nutrition programs in California public schools impacting academic performance?" break down your search into the main keywords:

California, nutrition, public school, academic performance

Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together

Use AND to combine different keywords

"food insecurity" AND "public school"
Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords "food insecurity" or hunger
Look for ways to limit your search in the database You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publicationsubject 

 


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