Keyword searching, once rare in the print universe, is now the way most of us look for information.  (Think Google.)  Since every database is structured a little bit differently, it is hard to account for every search interface.  


There are some searching strategies, however, that you can use many places online.  Keywords can be combined in certain ways to make better searches.


AND and OR


If you want two words or phrases together, try connecting them with AND:


Woodrow Wilson AND public administration

performance measurement AND history


If you want variant search terms or variant spellings, try using OR:


labor or labour

jobs or employment or employees or careers


Truncation or Wild Card Symbols


Sometimes variations in word endings can be obtained by using a word root with a special wild card symbol to mean “and whatever comes next.”  For example:

administrat*   yields administration, administrations, administrator, administrators,

and all other variations on that word in Google and many other systems.  Check the help file for your database to find out which symbol to use as a wild card.


Exact Phrase

In some systems, an exact phrase can be placed in quotation marks for searching:

“bureau of government research”


If you have found formal subject headings, and the subject headings you encounter are not specific enough, you can try keyword phrases like these:

    Public finance

    Public management

    Government performance

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