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Education and Training: Basic Research

General purpose subject guide with resources pertaining to education and training.

Create a List of Search Terms (and Alternates) for Your Topic

web search  icon


Figuring out the right search terms is a key part of conducting an effective search whether you are using library databases or searching the web. The process for developing good search terms is the same for both


How do I know what words to enter into a Search Box?

You may be assigned a topic to research or you may be asked to choose your own. Your topic will be your starting point in choosing search terms.note-taking icon

  • Types of search terms: 
    • keywords - a general list words related to your topic.
    • subject searches - words listed or bolded database lists
      • nouns - the names of something or someone -- people, things, places
        •  example - nouns for a topic in psychology: "depression,"  "bipolar disorder," "schizophrenia."
  • Make a list of main search terms 
  • Create a list of alternate search termssynonyms (different words that mean the same thing)
    • WHY? Different authors will use different terms that mean the same thing so If you can't find enough information using one search term, another
    • Consult a Thesaurus to find related or alternative words or synonyms.  

Basic Searching in Education Databases


list iconAs you gather background information and data keep a running list of relevant words, phrases, key concepts, and subjects you encounter to use in future searches related your specific assignment goals.   Make a list of terms and their variations. Different authors use different terms and having this list will help you cover all your research bases.


note iconNOTE: When searching, put quotes OR parentheses around phrases of more than one word -- "early childhood education" or (early childhood education) - to search for the phrase instead of the individual words separately.



  • preschool; preschooler; preschoolers; pre-K;
  • infants; toddlers; (early childhood); "early childhood education"
  • students; learners; kindergartners; (elementary students); "middle-school students;" (high-school students)
  • (online education); "distance learning); (hybrid classroom)
  • teachers; educators, "teacher assistant;"
  • assess; assessment; assessments; (outcome-based education); competencies;

Advanced Searching

                serach icon              Advanced Search Strategy - Boolean Search

Combine search terms. Use the Advanced Search tool with multiple boxes.


  • play AND learning
    • finds results with both search terms
    • narrows results
  • (diversity OR difference) AND education
    • finds results for either search term specific to climate change
    • place the OR terms in parenthesis as a signal to the database to search variations on the similar concepts
    • expands results
  • course AND delivery NOT mail
    • finds results for course delivery and eliminates results about mail delivery

                serach icon              Advanced Search Strategy - Truncation


  • educat*
    • finds articles than contain words beginning with the root "educat" - educate, educator, education, educating, etc.
      • efficient search strategy -  do one search rather than many

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