UMGC Library

Literature: Search Tips

A Library Research Guide

Search Tips for English Research

How do I choose keywords for my searches?

  • Words to include
    For an English research topic, you would want to include, at the very least, the writer's name and the title of the work you're researching.
  • Use quotation marks
    If the work's title is longer than one word, you can optimize your search by putting quotation marks around the title. Using quotation marks will ensure that the database finds results that use that exact phrase.  
  • Use AND
    To search for both the writer and the work together, you need to link your search terms with and. This strategy will narrow your search. 
Keats and "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

Found too many results?

  • Add more keywords
    If you find that you are retrieving too many results, try adding more keywords to further narrow your topic.
Keats and "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and criticism

Found too few results?

  • Use OR
    If you are searching for a lesser-known writer or work, you may not find much information about the particular writer and work you have chosen. In this case you can try broadening your search by using or to link your terms. This strategy will broaden your search because it will return results that mention either Keats or "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
Keats or "Ode on a Grecian Urn"


  • Look for more general information 
    If you are still having trouble finding enough information, try looking for more general information about themes, motifs, or symbols that may occur in the work you are studying, or about traits typical of a particular type of writing.
"romantic poetry"

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