Module 2: Search Strategies
Keyword searching may be the most familiar type of search since you have probably used it in web search engines like Google. You simply think of words or phrases that describe your topic and enter them in the search box. It is flexible because you can combine words in many different ways.
When searching the library catalog or a database, a keyword search looks for your keywords and phrases in all fields of the catalog or database record. It is important to remember that because you use natural language, the word you use to describe a subject may not be the same word used by authors in the subject field.
Characteristics of keyword searching:
- Searches for general, natural language words describing your topic - good to start with
- More flexible - you may combine keywords in many ways
- All fields in the record are searched for keywords
- May produce too few or too many results
- May produce irrelevant results
When you do a keyword search in the library catalog or a database, the search looks through multiple fields in the record:
Disadvantages of Keyword Searching
Keyword searching also retrieves words from the notes and abstract field. Sometimes these fields will contain your search terms, while the actual item may not be exactly about your topic. Keyword searching usually provides more choices, but you have to work harder to find the right items on your topic.