creating search queries

Building effective keyword search queries is the key to finding relevant resources in Bilkent library, google scholar, or other online search engines. You should keep a list of your keywords and queries so you can interrogate new search engines as you find them.

Generating keywords
Keywords should be specific and targeted at the field you want to learn about. You can find good keywords by
  • looking at the keywords in the question / research brief
  • brainstorming synonyms and related terms
  • reading relevant reference materials (dictionaries, encyclopedias) or sources on the topic for key noun phrases / keywords
For example, we get the following keywords and synonyms/related terms by analysing the essay question “Can higher education institutions help societies achieve equality of opportunity?”:
  • higher education institutions (universities, college, institutes)
  • societies (Turkey, US, UK, Europe, Middle East)
  • equality of opportunity (equal opportunity, diversity, social justice, affirmative action, positive discrimination)
Building queries
You can use a few syntax tricks to build more targeted queries.
1. Use “quotation marks” to join phrases into a single search term (i.e., the search engine will look for the exact phrase, making the results more specific. For example:
  • search term: higher education
  • results: higher scores, higher participation, primary education, secondary education, university, etc.
  • search term: “higher education”
  • results: university, college, tertiary education, etc.
2. You can also join keywords together into more complex targeted queries using boolean operators like AND, OR, NOT, and (brackets), etc. Remeber to use brackets when using both AND and OR operators. For example:
(universities OR college OR “higher education” OR “tertiary education”) AND (“equal opportunities” OR “equality of opportunity”) AND Turkey NOT thanksgiving
3. Finally, the Bilkent library search engine also allows you to use uppercase limiters in your query to search particular parts of a record:
  • TX – all text
  • AU – author
  • TI – title
  • SO – source (journal name)
  • SU – subject
  • AB – abstract
  • IB – ISBN (unique book identifier)
  • IS – ISSN (unique journal identifier)
For example:
TI (universities OR college OR “higher education” OR “tertiary education”) AND (“equal opportunities” OR “equality of opportunity”) AND SU education
Using limiters
Search limiters will help you find current and relevant resources. The library allows you to refine your search by several criteria, available on the left hand side of the screen:
  • limit to collection / date published
  • Source Types
  • Subject
  • Publisher
  • Publication
  • Language
  • Geography
  • Collection
  • Content Provider

If you are getting too many results, try applying limiters before refining or changing your query.


Library Quick Search (EBSCO Host)

Library Catalog

Google Scholar


advanced search

Click “Advanced Search” under the search box on the results page

Click “Advanced” under the search box

Click the down arrow in the search box

exact term

“higher education”

“higher education”

“higher education”

find synonyms/

other forms

“higher education” OR university OR universities

“higher education” university universities

“higher education” OR university OR universities

combined terms

(“higher education” OR university) AND equality

university “higher education” equality

(university OR “higher education”) AND equality

excluded terms

“higher education” NOT research

use advanced search

“higher education” -research

title field

TI “higher education”

use advanced search

allintitle:higher education

whole text

TX “higher education”

use advanced search

allintext:higher education

author field

AU Tannock

use advanced search

use advanced search

full syntax guide

EBSCO Field Codes

use advanced search

Google Scholar Help

limiters on page interface


Date published

Source Types







Content Provider


Material Type


Publication Date

Shelf Location



Case law


locate full text

Click the links “PDF Full Text” or “Full Text Finder“ or open the e-book contents page

Go and find the book/journal on the library shelves J Or locate in Bilkent library e-resources (library > finding resources)

Click library link, e.g., “E-resources@Bilkent“ or the link labeled [PDF] to the right of the search result

  • Boolean operators should be in upper case, i.e., AND, OR, NOT
  • The library catalog does not accept boolean operators
  • In google search syntax, there is no space between the colon and the first keyword, e.g., intitle:university


Google Scholar. “Google Scholar Search Tips.” 2016. Accessed February 15.

McReynolds, Georgiana. 2016. “LibGuides: Google Search Tips: Search Operators.” Accessed February 15.

University Libraries, University of Colarado Boulder. n.d. “How do I… choose keywords for my search?” Accessed 16 March 2016. (link unavailable)