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Introduction to Research (Mont Alto)

Learn how to identify the best keywords for your assignment, find the right information, and then cite it!

Identifying & Brainstorming Keywords

Example Search Term Brainstorming

Topic:  How effective is pet therapy for elderly patients suffering from depression?

Major concepts:  pet therapy, elderly patients, depression
  Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
Major concept pet therapy elderly patients depression
Synonyms animal therapy animal assisted therapy geriatric patients melancholy sadness despair
Broader terms psychiatry therapeutic rehabilitation psychotherapy elderly aged older people mental health psychology psychiatry mental illness
Narrower terms animal assisted therapy elderly women chronic depression
Related words pets attachment theory attachment behavior gerontology mood therapy


Concept Mapping

Search Strategies

Boolean Operators

Search Term What it does Example
AND All terms must appear
Narrows your search
Fewer results
Use to include multiple concepts
video games AND violence
OR Either term may appear
Broadens your search
More results
Use for related concepts
concussion OR
traumatic brain injury

Removes a term from your search
Narrows your search
Fewer results 
Use for concepts you do not want to research

pet therapy NOT dogs
Phrases Search for exact phrases
Narrows your search
Fewer results
"animal assisted therapy"


Tips for searching websites:

  • Use Google's site command to search specific websites and domains. 
  • Conduct perimeter scans (look along the edges – top, bottom, sides – of the website) to quickly find the answers to these questions and evaluate the information!

Generate Keywords for Your Topic (Fullerton)