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ENGL 01B Epstein-Corbin: Reviewing Search Strategies

Introduction to Literature

Break Down Your Research Question into Keywords

The words you type into the search box affect your search results. Not all authors use the same language to describe similar topics, so you will need to try a variety of searches.

  • Create a list of possible words that could appear in a book or article related to your topic.
  • Come up with synonyms or related terms.
  • Stick to using 2-4 concepts at a time.

Connect Keywords with Boolean Operators

Operator Example
AND joins dissimilar terms. It helps narrow your search. "Heart of Darkness" AND post-colonialism
OR joins similar terms. It helps broaden your search.

Marxist OR Marxism

Use AND & OR together, as well.

"African American" OR "Black American"


"working class"

Use Quotation Marks to Find Phrases

  • gender roles
  • “A Doll's House”
  • "United States"

How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies