It will be helpful to understand a few basic concepts about keywords before
you begin searching:
Selecting your keywords: Try to think of several synonyms or phrases
that will best describe your research topic. Do not always rely on one
word only as that word may not have appeared in a document's title and
it may be that the search engine you've selected only indexes titles. At
the same time, do not limit your search too tightly as the documents searched
may have the keywords in various orders.
Boolean operators: Most search engines use some form of the Boolean
operators "and", "or", & "not". Some give you boxes to check for your
boolean selection, others automatically assume "and" is being used and
still others require you to type in the boolean operator. Some such as
Lycos may even consider your word a substring: a search for "cat" may turn
up articles on "caterpillar" if a period is not placed after the word (cat.).
Take the time to acquaint yourself with your search engine's searching
language technique. It may pay off in a more useful results list.
PERL searches: Some search engines even use a PERL (Practical Extraction
and Report Language). This is a scripting language designed for UNIX computers.
An "or" search would be conducted by typing "United States|USA".
Contiguous Strings: Some software will match your keyword strings
only if they occur in exactly the order in which you type them; for example,
searching for "Chicago Blackhawks" will return information only about the
Chicago Blackhawks and not on the city of Chicago.
Go back to What is
a Search Engine?