Once you have developed keywords for each concept, to conduct the actual search you will want to combine these keywords using standard search operators: AND, OR and NOT. Doing so allows you to broaden or narrow your search as appropriate. There is usually no one perfect combination of keywords and you will likely run multiple searches. Consider the illustrated combination of keywords, and search operators (AND, OR, NOT) for the following:
“Discuss the impact of physical activity on the academic performance of children.”
A search using this combination will return results that include resources where physical activity, academic performance and children (or their related keywords) are present, but will exclude from those results any resources where the keyword high school is present. See the Combining Keywords Worksheet located in Resources for more examples.
Click the sections below to learn more about the use of search operators.
Used to find sources that include all of the distinct keywords. Results in a narrower, more focused search and fewer results. In the example, physical activity AND academic performance AND children will return results for resources in which all keywords are present.
Used to find sources that include any of the keywords. Results in a broader search and more results. In the example, physical activity OR sports OR exercise will return results for resources in which any one (or more) of the keywords are present.
Used to exclude sources containing certain keywords from your search. Results in a narrower search and fewer results. In the example, children NOT high school will return results for resources in which the keyword children is present but the keyword high school is not present.