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Keyword Search Strategies: Evaluating Results

How to use keywords to make your searches more effective.

Evaluating your Results

Skim the title list first. When you find an interesting title, check for an abstract (brief summary) of the article, or a summary of the book, to help you decide if it will really fit your needs.

Be choosy! An article or book can contain all your keywords but still not be useful.

If you get no results or uninteresting results:

  • Avoid typing long phrases or questions. Use only the most important words.
  • Choose different keywords for your search. Think of synonyms or related terms you can substitute in your search.
  • If you found even one interesting result, skim it for relevant keywords you can use in a revised search.

For example, if your search was:

death penalty and racism

Try these instead:

capital punishment and racism

death penalty and discrimination

If you get too many results:

  • Add a keyword to your search to make it more specific.
  • Use a more specific keyword (like roses instead of flowers)