Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Information Skills: 3: Search terms

Search terms

You have now formulated a search query and perhaps also a number of sub-questions. Before you start searching for an answer to your query, you need to come up with the search terms that you will use in your search.

In order to achieve a good result, we recommend that you divide your search query and/or sub-question into a number of elements. For each element, you devise one or more search terms.

Our example about social media would then look like this:

“What are the effects of using social media in higher education on student learning behaviour?”.

This search query can be divided into three elements:

- Social media
- Learning behaviour
- Students

In order to define your search terms, you can use dictionaries, lists of keywords from the library catalogue and the Internet, among others.

You can also consider variants of your search terms, such as synonyms, single or plural forms, spelling variants, abbreviations or written out in full, related terms, and broader (more general) and narrower (more specific) terms.

    Social media Learning behaviour Students
Synonyms Social media        
Related terms Virtuele communities
Social networks
Learning attitude
Learning psychology
Learning strategy
Course participants
Young people
Broader term
(more general term)
Web 2.0
Digital media
Learning processes
Study processes
Universities of applied sciences
Narrower term
(more specific term)
University of applied sciences students
Bachelors students