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Theology: finding library resources for assignments

Online tutorial introducing you to the skills and techniques needed for effective library research

Keywords and advanced search techniques

Before you start searching, spend some time defining your research topic. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to find out? What search terms or keywords will find this information?

Use whatever technique works best for you - e.g. brainstorming, words lists or mind maps etc. can help you think around your topic and identify all possible search concepts and terms. 

Take a look at the short video to help you begin:

Once you have identified your keywords and synonyms, it is really useful to organise them by concept. This will enable you to combine your keywords and carry out complex searches in one go (see next tab).

You may find it useful to use a table or circle.

Let's imagine you are interested in finding information on systematic or constructive theology in both Eastern and Western Christianity. A typical search may look like this:


The keywords have been organised by concept.  In this case we are focusing on the geographical coverage, specific religion, and religious approaches or disciplines. 

It is possible to use a number of different keywords in a single search, by using operators.

The three most commonly used operators are ANDORNOT.  These are known as Boolean operators. They can be used to broaden or narrow a search and to exclude unwanted concepts.

Watch the video to find out how to use these operators.


These techniques will improve the relevancy of your results by only returning results that match your instructions. 
NOTE: the more keywords and advanced search techniques you use = the fewer results you return

Advanced search techniques

A typical search for information on systematic or constructive theology in both Eastern and Western Christianity may look like this:


More information on search techniques can be found on the Search Techniques Libguide.

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