Identifying keywords

Regardless of which of the search tools you use, your search results are tied to the keywords you enter. Start by looking for the main concepts in your research question. These are the words or phrases that describe the topic you are investigating and will form the basis of your keyword search.

Discuss how Indigenous-led tourism ventures influence cultural heritage in Australia. Write a 1000 word essay on this topic. You must cite and reference at least five sources, with at least three of these being scholarly journal articles. All of your texts should be recently published.

From this topic there are four main concepts:

  • Indigenous
  • Tourism
  • Cultural heritage
  • Australia

Alternative terms

There may be times when the keywords you identify from your assignment question do not provide you with relevant or useful resources, or enough information on your research topic. When this happens, expanding your search strategy can help you find what you need.

Authors may use different words to describe the same concept, so it is a good idea to identify alternative terms (also known as similar terms or synonyms) for your topic. This will broaden your search.

For our topic above, you could consider the following alternative terms:

  • Indigenous - Aboriginal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, First Nations, First Peoples
  • Tourism
  • Cultural heritage -cultural legacy, cultural values, language
  • Australia

Combining your search terms

When searching in the catalogue and databases, you can combine your keywords using AND and OR.

  • AND narrows your search, returning results that contain all of your terms. For example: Indigenous AND tourism will only return articles which include both keywords, Indigenous and tourism.

  • OR broadens your search, returning results that contain either of your terms. For example: cultural heritage OR cultural legacy will return articles which include either of these keywords.

Boolean search

Other search tips

You can use these tips to search the Library catalogue, databases, or Google.

Phrase searching means searching for two words or a string of words as an exact phrase. By using this technique you will only retrieve articles where those words appear together in the text. To search for a phrase, add double quotes around the term.

For example: “Cultural tourism”

The truncation symbol (usually an asterisk *) is useful for finding different endings of a word. It is added after the last common letter of variations.

For example, the search term touris* will search for tourist, tourists, and tourism