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Library DIY

Self-help Guide for Navigating the Library

I need to select terms or keywords to search with.

In library databases use keywords that express the most important concepts related to your topic.

The more terms you use the fewer results you get, so be selective. 

Example: A search like impact of gender on people's salary expectations will get far fewer results than gender AND salary AND expectations.


Brainstorm terms that mean the same thing.

Example, an article about salary may not use that word, so try terms like wages, pay, income, or earnings. Searching for all of those terms together with OR between them (example: gender OR pay OR wages OR income OR earnings) tells the search engine to find at least one of the terms in your search results. 


Quick background research may help you identify effective keywords.

See resources in the eReference database category, or browse the Reference collection in the library. Once you have your key search words, try them in various combinations in the library's research databases.


More Tips for Searching

Brainstorming Keywords Video

(Portland State University)