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Using Keywords with Library Databases

Before you start to search, you will need think about the keywords you will use for your search. Watch the video below for some tips on choosing keywords.

“Brainstorming Keywords.” YouTube, uploaded by Portland State University, 21 June 2012,

Creating a Search String

Start your search with one broad keyword or keyword phrase and add terms as necessary to narrow your search. This search example demonstrates a complex search string in OneSearch.

  • Phrase search with quotation marks ("human trafficking") searches for the terms human and trafficking directly next to one another in the document.
  • OR forced labor broadens search to any documents containing term human trafficking" or forced labor
  • NOT sex narrows search by removing documents from the search that contain the term sex
  • AND prevention narrows search by requiring documents in search results contain BOTH terms "human trafficking" AND prevention.

We have narrowed our search to just over 1000 items using keywords. Now we can use the tools under Refine Results on the left to find exactly what we need.

Screen shot showing a search string in OneSearch database. Top search box contains "human trafficking" or forced labor, second search box contains NOT sex, and third search box contains AND prevention. This has narrowed results to 2,043 items.

Use limits to refine your results:

  • Date published
  • Source type - academic journals
  • Subject human trafficking -- prevention.

To remove a limit, simply click on the X to the right of the limit under Limiters.

If you need academic journals from peer-reviewed journals, check the Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals limit.

Screenshot of OneSearch limits highlighting the date, source type, subject, and Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals limits. Limits can be removed by clicking the X to the right of each limit under limiters on the left.