Let's take a look at an example with some relevant key words for looking at trauma and development. All of the keywords were located using step one in the ERIC thesaurus.
Key concept #1: Trauma
Possible Keywords: trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress variables, mental health
Key concept #2: Development
Possible Keywords: Child development, adolescent development, individual development, developmental stages, developmental delays, developmental tasks
Key concept #3: Learning
Possible Keywords: learning, student outcomes, academic achievement, learning problems, learning processes
To find relevant information, we need to put together our keywords into a search string, including at least one word for each key concept. We do this using what's called Boolean searching. Boolean searching using AND, OR, and NOT* to create a search string that almost all databases or search engines can easily understand.
A boolean search using AND tells the search engine to only look for articles with both words. A boolean search using OR tells the search engine to find articles with any or all of the keywords.
Example: The simplest Boolean search strings just use AND, like this example using our keywords from above:
trauma AND child development AND learning
*NOT is not commonly used, so no need to worry about it for now.