Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Basic Search Techniques

Keywords are the words that you type into the search box to find resources about your topic. What are the most important words in your research question? Think of synomyms for those words.

Example: How does media portrayal of cyber crimes impact the general public's view on their personal safety? 

Practice: Brainstorm possible keywords for this topic:

"cyber crime"

"cyber war"

"media portrayal"

"news bias"

"general public"



After you have decided on your keywords, you'll need to tell the database how they should be connected.


"media portayal" AND "cyber crimes"

Will find resources that have both media portrayal and cyber crimes as keywords.


"teenagers" OR "young adults"

Will find resources about teenagers OR young adults.


"United States" NOT "United Kingdom"

Will find resources about cyber crime in the United States not in the United Kingdom. 

After you decide on your keywords and how they connect to each other, you should come up with a few search strategies that you'll try in the databases.

For example:

"cyber attack" AND "united states" AND "media portrayal"

"cyber crime" AND media and ("public perception" OR "general public")

Advanced Search Techniques

Truncation can be used with root words that have multiple endings. It can help to increase your search results.

Truncation uses symbols (or wildcards) to replace letters in words. Different databases use different symbols. The most common are:

* (asterisk)   ? (question mark)   #(pound sign)

EBSCO databases use * (asterisk)

Example: communicat* would retrieve records that include the words: communication, communicates, communicate, communicator, etc.

Nesting is another way to refine your search, by combining Boolean operators. Place parenthesis around the terms that are grouped with OR or NOT.

"cyber crime" AND ("public perception" OR "public knowledge")

technology AND (assessment OR evaluation)

  • Avoid empty words like relationship, impact, effect, results
  • For best results, combine strategies: