Identify keywords for your topic and brainstorm narrower, broader, and related terms.
Example: Factors that affect academic performance in first-generation college students.
||Children of Immigrants
Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT allow you to broaden or narrow your results in the library catalog and databases. You can easily use these to clarify what you need by choosing the advanced search option.
Found too many results?
Add more keywords.
Adding additional keywords to your search can help to further narrow your topic.
Example: college AND first-generation students AND academic performance
Use a filter
Look on the left side for ways you can filter your materials. Here are a few to consider, depending on your needs.
- material type - such as a book, newspaper article, or review
- peer-reviewed - to find scholarly articles
- date - typically to find the most current materials
- subject - to find articles about a certain topic
Found too few results?
Try different search terms.
What other words could you use to describe this concept? Brainstorm related terms, synonyms, and slightly different forms of your word or phrase. Also brainstorm broader categories or concepts it belongs to, as well as narrower elements or examples. (See the keywords section above for examples.)
It may also be useful to consider the official, academic, or formal way to write that term. This is more likely to be used in academic writing.
Use fewer search terms.
Sometimes less is more! The more words, phrases, or subjects you ask the database to find, the fewer sources will meet the criteria.
Broaden your search by using the boolean operator OR to link your terms.
Example: (college OR higher education OR university) AND first-generation students AND (academic performance OR student success)