Keyword Selection & Refinement

The first step in searching the internet is identifying the Key Words.
It’s easy to come up with a question and write it down:

What are the most important characteristics of the mammals of Australia?


Next it is helpful to consider what your question is really about. This is identifying your Key Words.

Australian Mammals


Google has provided some great tips on what you need to know when searching and what you don’t need to worry about. Click here to go to ‘How to Search on Google’

Have you ever heard of Syntax?

Syntax is the way a search engine uses its commands to search the internet. You can use Syntax to your advantage by:

  • Using capital letters for the people and place names
  • Using a comma to separate names or items in a list
  • If two or more words must appear together join them with a hyphen ( australian-mammals ) or use double quotation marks around them ( “australian mammals” )

Google tricks - Imgur

Likewise, Boolean commands can direct a search toward useful sources.

Here are search some hints from Informit using Boolean Commands:

The below table is sourced from Informit by RMIT Publishing

Use CAPITAL letters for Boolean operators: AND; OR; XOR; NOT

To find: Enter search…
The exact phrase ‘war and peace’ “war and peace”
Both words ‘law’ and ‘reform’ law   AND  reform
Either or both words ‘law’ or ‘reform’ law   OR  reform
Either words ‘law’ or ‘reform’, not both law   XOR   reform
The word ‘law’, not both ‘law’ and ‘reform’ law   NOT   reform
Words beginning with trade   [e.g. ‘trade’, ‘trader’, ‘tradesman’, ‘trade-related’ etc.] trade*
The terms ‘science’ and ‘tertiary education’ (science   AND   “tertiary education”)
The term ‘human rights’ in a subject field subject:”human rights”
The name ‘John Smith’ in an author field author:john smith


Which Search Engine?

How to refine your search