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HIST 300 - Introduction to Historical Studies: Searching Vocabulary

Knowing What You Are Searching For

When starting to do research you need to know what you are looking for.  After you have a topic idea, you need to make a list of keywords for searching.  One very good way to increase your searching vocabulary is to add Synonyms and Antonyms for your keywords.  Very often a term you are searching for can be dated, regional, or more slang than technical.  By making a list of all of the possibilities, your searching can be more successful.  Take for example an iPhone:  it may also be referred to as a smartphone or a cell phone.  Less commonly, it may be referred to as a mobile phone (or a mobile); in early days cell phones were also called "wireless phones" or "car phones".  It can also be considered a telephone or a phone (phones once were called landlines and were hard wired into a house).  This page was created to help you think about how to find additional searching vocabulary.

When considering your topic, try to write out what you are thinking and then work on filtering it down to a simple statement.  For example, if you are thinking "playing Call of Duty probably makes people more aggressive", this is a very specific idea and you will likely need to adjust your search terms.  Call of Duty is a multiplayer, online, first-person, shooting video game, so you may try "playing video games makes people more aggressive."  Aggressive is another word for violent, so a simple switching of keywords can often create new search results.  People is a very broad term that may need to be narrowed down to a certain age group such as teens or High School students. Thus, a simplified search may be: "Does playing video games make teens more violent?"

Antonyms by LKaras Work


Some databases, such as Academic Search Complete, use something called predictive typing and will offer you suggestions. For example, when you type "college" into the search box it offers you "college or university or higher education" automatically offering you synonyms for college joined by boolean connectors.

Selecting & Using Key Words

what is a keyword by LKaras Work