Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Please note: Off-campus access to many library resources is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Hope Library Guides

ENGL 113 - DeNotto: Tips for Research

Search Tips

  1. Keep your searches simple (at least at first)
  2. Break down complex questions into different parts
  3. Brainstorm different ways to describe what you are looking for (consider using Boolean operators to help)
  4. Remember that research is an iterative process (do multiple searches with different combinations of terms and using different strategies)
  5. Learn from your search results (there is no such thing as a "failed" search)
  6. Keep your research organized (for example, keep a list of search terms you've used or have not yet used)


Sample Searches to Learn From

Example topic: Do video games make teenagers more violent?

Sample search 1: Searching with a phrase based on research question

 Sample search 2: Searching by identifying keywords from research question


 Sample search 3: Searching using keywords from research question as well as using other related keywords

Boolean Operators

Search Tips/Tricks

Or, how to completely geek-out your searches





X and Y

Searches for both

race AND ethnicity

X or Y

Searches for either

race OR ethnicity


Searches for a phrase

“cultural appropriation”


Searches for multiple endings

cultur* (finds culture, cultural, culturally, etc.)

Boolean Operators

Important Process for Research Success: Generating Keyword Process

  1. Write out your research question. For example: "How does exercise affect the mental health of college students?"
  2. Pull out the most important words from your research question. exercise, mental health, and college students.
  3. Think of synonyms for these keywords.  Exercise: workout, fitness. College students: university students, post-secondary students.
  4. Think of broader keywords. Mental health: well-being. Broader keywords are helpful if you aren't getting enough results.
  5. Think of narrower keywords. Mental health: anxiety. Narrower keywords are helpful if you're getting too many results.
  6. Start searching a library database or research tool with your keywords. Remember to try out different keyword combinations to get the best search results.
  7. Collect additional keywords as you search.


Searching with keywords and synonyms - IME 553 - Production Systems -  LibGuides at Wichita State University

Keyword Organizer

Keyword Organizer

Generating Keywords Activity

An example of the main concepts in a research questionSynonyms of key concepts


Generating Keywords

What is your Research Question?




What are the main concepts in your Research Question?






What are some synonyms (or related terms) for those concepts and your topic?

Concept 1.


Concept 2.


Concept 3.


Work together with your partner to try to help each other generate other keywords.