Help & Guides‎ > ‎Guides‎ > ‎

Keyword Searching Table

Benefits of Keyword Searching

- Can use common language and familiar terminology.

- Can use very specific words, such as names of companies, organizations, etc.

- Can combine terms in different ways, very flexible.

-Will look for search terms in multiple citation fields

- Familiar way of searching; even in library database environment -- for most databases -- keyword searching performs similarly to internet search engines.

- User-friendly or/and Google-like keyword search experiences can encourage user trust and confidence, thus not discouraging users from using article databases and other library resources.

- Speedier searching

- The best use of keyword searching

- Searching the Library’s Discovery Search Service or any similarly large, multi-disciplinary set of article databases, (i.e. ProQuest Central, Academic Search Complete)

- When searching a recent event or a very new concept.

- When you want greater flexibility in combining terms and concepts –adding multiple subtopics to a search to quickly narrow down your search results.

 Drawbacks of Keyword Searching

- If the particular keyword(s) a user types into a search are not located in the citation fields or the full text of a relevant article, the article will not be retrieved. Depending on topic, sometimes involves too much “guess work.”

- Relies solely on word matches. Unrelated concepts using the same search terms are often retrieved.

- If the keyword search efficacy of a database is deficient or not user-friendly and yet subject heading searching in the same database is excellent, it is more likely that this will discourage the database user from using the database entirely, rather than encourage the user to explore the resource further and execute fruitful subject searches.

- Flexibility of keyword searching also allows users to enter too broad of searches retrieving way too many results or allows users to enter too narrow of searches retrieving way too few results. Multiple keyword searches are often necessary, even within the same database.