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ENGR 102: Engineering Freshman Academy

Developing Keywords

Identify the main ideas/nouns from your research question.

  • ex. How will virtual and augmented reality change education?

Brainstorm synonyms for these important terms.

  • ex. virtual and augmented reality: VR, AR, 3D environment, artificial intelligence (AI)

                  education: teaching, learning environment, school, curriculum


The main words you highlight along with their synonyms provide the foundation for what terms you should try searching.

Boolean Searching

Now that you have some keywords to search, let us think about how we can broaden or narrow our search. Using Boolean operators is a helpful way to achieve more refined results.

AND, OR, and NOT (must be capitalized) are the most popular Boolean operators.

Other Searching Tips:

Phrase Searching:

Use quotation marks to make sure phrases stay together. I.E. "offshore windfarm" or "metal lethargy"


Parentheses tell the database which part of search to look at first. For instance, in the search birds AND ("offshore windfarms" OR "marine windfarms"), ("offshore windfarms" OR marine windfarms") will be looked at first.


You can also refine your search using any databases' filters. They are often a variety of ways to filter a search via refining the publication date, the format (article, book, conference proceeding, etc.), etc. 

Active Filters applied are articles, peer-reviewed journals, available online, years: 2010-2020, and English.