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ENGL U101 - Composition I - Professor Wilson Colyard: 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 key words for searching.  One very good way to increase your searching vocabulary is to add Synonyms and Antonyms for your key words.  Very often a term you are searching 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 your IPhone:  it is also called a smart phone, a cell phone, a mobile phone (or a mobile), a wireless telephone, or a car phone.  It can also be considered a telephone or a phone (phones once were called land lines 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 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 probably 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 very broad term which 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?"

Topic formation


Synonyms & Antonyms



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 key word infographic