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ENVS 101 Environmental Science

Identifying Search Terms

Identify the keywords or key phrases in your research need.


What are the effects of plastics on the environment?

Identify synonyms for those words and phrases:

plastics    environment   
plasticizers    environmental   
phthalates        ecology

Use search techniques to improve your search results:

“plastic bottles” quotation marks around phrases
ecolog* = ecology or ecological       symbols to expand search terms (truncation)
plastics AND environment* AND, OR, NOT to combine search terms
“plastic bottles” AND ecology* put it all together

Use the "Identifying Search Terms Worksheet" below to try it yourself.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a good tool for brainstorming and developing research questions. For help creating your own mind map, check out Mind42 and a tutorial from the University of Arizona on mind mapping by navigating to the links below. 

Starting Point: Encyclopedias