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Essay guide_First Semester 2020: Tips for searching ECO1011F

Tips for searching

This page provides search tips that can improve the quality and relevance of your search results. It is important to familiarise yourself with these tips.

1.1 - Identify keywords or search terms

Before you start searching for information, the first and very important step is to  identify the keywords or search terms that you will use for searching. Library databases require you to enter keywords into the search box because entering an entire essay topic or question will not be effective and is likely return poor or even no relevant results at all.

The search terms you use are critical in determining the relevance of the results that you will retrieve. Try to identify as many different search terms as you can.

Examples of the search terms you may use for the essay topic are:

  • unemployment
  • trade unions
  • bargaining councils
  • South Africa
  • Labour unions
  • Unions
  • Collective bargaining

1.3 - Getting too many results?

If you are getting too many results or results that are not very relevant, one way of refining your search is to use:

Phrase searching

If your keyword is more than one word, you can use quotation marks to search for the keyword as one unit e.g.

Use quotation marks to search for specific terms together e.g.

         "bargaining councils"

will retrieve only results with the two terms next to each other in the specific order


1.2 - Creating a search statement

Once you have identified search terms, to retrieve the most relevant search results, you need to construct a search statement

A search statement is a combination of search terms that you use to search. You use Boolean operators to connect search terms. Boolean operators are used to define the relationships between the search terms. These include:

AND - narrows search results as ALL search terms need to be in search results. Retrieves a smaller and more specific set of results. The more search terms you use, the smaller the set of results retrieved.


OR - broadens search results as EITHER ONE OF, or ALL terms are in the results. Produces a larger and more general set of results.                                                                                                                                                                          


NB: Blue colour indicates the results retrieved.