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Anthropology 280 Library Research

Help with Search Terms

The words you use to search for sources affect the results you see. Things to think about:

  • How do people talk about the things you are researching? Often researchers use specialized language and terms in their scholarly writing. You might want to ask your instructor or librarian for help identifying some of these terms. You can also do some "pre-research" using sources like encyclopedias, Google, and Wikipedia to help identify some of these terms.
    • For topics in forensic anthropology, pay special attention to scientific terms and language.
  • Do you need to be aware of different spellings? Sometimes people or groups of people may go by different names or their names may be spelled in different ways. This can be especially important in Anthropology. Sometimes trying a different spelling will pull up sources you wouldn't otherwise see. 
  • Don't give up! If your first search doesn't work, try changing your search terms. You can also add or subtract terms to narrow or broaden your search.

Having a clear idea of your topic can be very helpful as you brainstorm search terms. Here's a quick guide on developing your research topic: https://libraries.wsu.edu/how-do-i/develop-a-research-question/

Here is a brief but very helpful guide to help you come up with effective search terms: https://libraries.wsu.edu/how-do-i/develop-keywords/

Keyword Activity

If you are stumped in your search for useful search terms, this worksheet might help:

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