Skip to Main Content

English for Academic Purposes - EAP

Brainstorming Keywords

The first step in the search process is to know what you are searching for! So, you should think about your topic, and brainstorm different words that describe what you want to research. Watch this video to learn how to brainstorm a topic and come up with keywords. 

Combining Keywords

Once we have decided where we are going to look for information, we have selected keywords to use in a search, and we have formulated a research question, we need to know how to combine our search terms to find what we are looking for. When researching, we are like detectives trying to combine the right words in the right place to find the information we need. 


Research Question: Should businesses have an ethical responsibility to combat climate change with sustainable practices?


business ethical responsibility climate change
business practices ethics sustainability
  values sustainable practices


Search Strategies

Search for information by combining key concepts using the words you have brainstormed. Each concept/word should be separated by the word "AND". Use this kind of search when looking for specific evidence related to your claim/thesis.


business AND ethics AND climate change

Getting Too Many Irrelevant Results?

Add more search terms, or limit your results to specific geographic locations, dates, or source types. 

Getting Too Few Relevant Results?

Change or remove some search terms.

Selecting Subject Terms

Subject Terms are like hash tags (#); databases use these terms to tag an article to help you find it. It is the databases' specific language or a way to describe an article. You can use subjects in a search by putting them in a search box, or clicking on a term in your results list to further explore the articles that are tagged with that term. See the example below:

Places to find Information

There are different resources for different information needs.

  • Reference Books include encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries. These types of books may be useful as you explore background knowledge, understanding disciplinary terminology, and fact-checking.  Reference books can be in print and/or electronic format.
  • Books are found in the online library catalog and most circulate with three-week borrowing periods.  in addition to traditional books the library has a large collection of ebooks.
  • Article Databases are used for finding journal articles. Some of the databases contain general articles on many subjects, while some are more subject specific.
  • Statistics are useful to support an argument or making predictions.

To access SLU resources from off campus, you will need your SLUNet ID and password. When you select a SLU Libraries resource from this guide or the Libraries' website, you will be prompted to enter you username and password to access the resource. More information on off campus access is available on the Libraries' Website.

Information Organization

The Libraries’ website allows you to access hundreds of databases. Each database stores and organizes journals either on one area of study, or on multiple areas of study. Journals are where articles are located. You can search for articles in a variety of ways, for example: 

  1. SLUth Search Plus searches over multiple databases in multiple subject areas
  2. Search over multiple databases in one subject area
  3. Search a single database
  4. Search over all issues of a specific journal title
  5. Search a single journal issue

Each article in a database is represented by a record that gives you an overview of information about the article including the title, author, subject terms, and ways to access the article.