Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Planning Library Research

Subject keywords

It will facilitate the research process if you spend time listing your subject keywords. When doing this you need to consider the following:

  • Spelling variants, eg behaviour / behavior
  • Variations of a root word, eg feminism / feminist / feminine
  • Single and plural versions of words
  • Relevant abbreviations and acronyms, eg EU or EEC for European Union
  • Technical terms and jargon, eg Hansard for Parliamentary Debates
  • Alternative usage and vocabulary, eg narcotics / drugs, Tories / Conservatives
  • Alternative meanings and contexts, eg web, mouse
  • Changes in terminology, eg Native Americans / Red Indians, Eskimos / Inuits
  • Synonyms

When conducting searches you may also find it necessary to:

  • Include more general terms if you do not obtain enough results, eg replace Elgin marbles with Greek sculpture
  • Include narrower terms if you obtain too many results, eg replace America with United States
  • Specifically exclude certain categories, eg Eating disorders, not in females

Elsewhere in the tutorial you can find help on how to use these keywords to search the library catalogue and to conduct more advanced searches in a range of electronic resources.

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