IQP Research Guide

Be Persistent with Keywords

Often, the first keyword search you try will not yield relevant results. Do not be discouraged if this happens - it happens to all of us (even librarians)! The key is to be persistent. If your first search doesn't work, try searching for synonyms or for variations of your keywords.

Learn the Lingo

Every topic, discipline, and subculture has its own lingo, jargon, and key concepts. For example, consider the following sentence:

  • "I need a 0/1 blue Homunculus artifact creature token.” 

This sentence will make perfect sense to someone who plays Magic: The Gathering, but it may sound strange to someone who doesn't. The more you play the game, the more familiar you'll become with the lingo. Similarly, the more you read about your topic, the more familiar you'll become with the language used in that field. By reading and learning this new language, you'll be able to improve your keyword searching by incorporating new vocabulary words into your searches. 

Every place has its own dialect, languages, and idioms. For example, in South Africa, a childcare center is called a creche. A search for "South Africa" AND creche will yield more relevant results than a search for "South Africa" AND "childcare center"

For more help with languages, check out the Foreign Languages section of this guide.

Search Tips

Search tips for WPI Library Search:

  • Connect your keywords using the word AND.
    • Example:
      • velociraptor AND housing
  • Search for synonyms using the word OR. Nest your synonyms in parentheses.
    • Example:
      • (velociraptor OR dromaeosauridAND housing
  • Use quotation marks around phrases.
    • Example:
      • ​​communication strategies” OR “methods of communication” 
  • If your search topic has an acronym, search on both the acronym and the full phrase.
    • Example:
      • DHAA OR Dinosaur Housing Association of Antarctica"
  • Use the * symbol to search for words that have the same beginning letters:
    • Example:
      • Search for hous* to find results for house, houses, housing, etc.