UMGC Library

Library Instruction ASTD 135: Find

Finding Articles in the Library Using Keyword Searches

For many research and writing assignments, you'll have to search for articles in library databases. You'll search using keywords and the connectors AND plus OR.

Let's say your research topic is:

What factors contribute to students' academic success in online learning?

Identify the main concepts in your research topic:

  • academic success
  • online learning

You can do a search in a library database with those keywords plus the connector AND. Your search will look like this:

"academic success" AND "online learning"

The connector AND narrows the results you get from the database. The database will only show you articles that are about academic success and online learning (not just academic success in general).

Pro tip: If your keyword is a phrase of two or more words, place it inside quotation marks. That tells the database to search those words in that exact order. You don't have to put one-word keywords inside quotation marks. For example:

  • "academic success"
  • "online learning"
  • grades
  • students

To expand your search, use alternative keywords that are related to your main concepts. Connect the keywords using OR, and nest them inside parentheses, like this:

("academic success" OR "academic performance") AND ("online learning" OR "distance education")

Using alternative keywords with OR expands your search to ensure that you retrieve comprehensive results from the library database. Using parentheses with OR ensures that the database carries out the search in a logical sequence.

For more info on using keywords with the connectors AND plus OR, see our our Library Research Tutorial: Searching.


Test Your Knowledge

The following questions will help you review the material you just read and check your comprehension of it.

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