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REL / WGS 313: Marriage Across Cultures: Selecting Search Terms

Selecting Search Terms

Selecting search terms

Much of your work will consist of searching scholarly databases relevant to your topic. Unlike Google, most of these databases do not search the entire text of a document. Instead, you will be trying to match your search terms with the title, abstract (a one-paragraph summary), and some selected subject terms.

If you had to select 2-4 words which described your topic, what would those words be? Make a list:

  • interreligious
  • marriage
  • bride

Next, think of similar words which might be used in addition to, or instead of each of your terms. For example:

  • interfaith ; cross cultural ; Muslim; Islam; Christian; Christianity; Hindu ; Hinduism
  • wedding
  • spouses ; gender roles ; sex roles

You’ll want to prepare to mix and match terms to see which combination works best in each database you’re searching.

EXPERT TIP: If you type multiple search terms, Google assumes that each term you add is connected by the logical operator AND . Many scholarly databases do not do this. Instead, they may assume that you are looking for all of your search terms only when they appear side by side. So if you are seeing fewer results than anticipated, add the term and in between your key words.

As an example, in the ATLA Religion database, marriage hindu brings back 80 results, but marriage and hindu brings back 173, just over twice as many.

MORE INFORMATION: Video on Finding Articles