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Research skills tutorial

2.3 Creating your search

The last step in developing a search strategy is to combine your keywords or alternate terms with your limits and search boosters.

Look at this topic:

In Australian culture, the 'typical Australian' is portrayed as a bushman, who wears thongs and a singlet and holds a can of beer.

Compare this portrayal of the typical Australian with current Australian popular culture and comment on its influence on how Australians are portrayed by international media.


A search strategy could include the terms "Australian culture" AND "international media".

In this search:

  • the quotation marks (" ") create two phrases, rather than four keywords
  • AND (boolean operator) connects the two phrases


Another search strategy could search for the terms Australia AND culture AND international AND media.

This search would find more results than the first search. However, these results may also not be as relevant because the words are no longer linked together and are less likely to appear in the right context for your topic.

If you wanted to search for how Australian culture is represented in a particular country, you could also include this as a keyword, such as "Australian culture" AND America AND media


Be flexible

You may need to change your strategy (search boosters, limits, combinations or keywords) if you can't find relevant information.  The more flexible you are, the more success you will have.

Use a variety of keywords and alternate terms when doing a search to get the most relevant results.  You can also use different search boosters and limits to focus your search to get exactly what you want.


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