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To determine what keywords to use when searching, write out your question on a piece of paper and then underline the words in your question that best express what it is you are looking for.   For example, if this is my research question:

What is service-excellence in post-secondary institutions?

I would focus in on the bolded words:
What is service excellence in post-secondary institutions?

Then, I would construct my search as follows:
Service excellence AND post-secondary institutions

If I am not happy with my search results I could think of synonyms for my search terms, then try a new search.

Instead of post-secondary institutions, I could also try:

  • Service excellence AND universities
  • Service excellence AND colleges
  • Service excellence AND higher education
  • Service excellence AND post-secondary education

So, I could do four more searches that are similar to my first search, and get more results for my research question.

As you look through your search results, pay particular attention to the words the authors are using as well as the subject headings some articles will provide, as these can give you ideas for keywords to try in future searches.

*Remember, you want to find good information on your topic, and in order to find good information, plan to spend time searching.

For more information on search strategies, see the following pages:

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