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Technology and Human Values

Brainstorming Key Terms and Variations


Take some time to think about your key terms and how they may appear in a database's search results.

*Learn more about Brainstorming on our Tools for Brainstorming LibGuide.

Brainstorm your key terms and consider:

  • Synonyms or terms that mean the same thing.  Think of all of the ways the concept may be written about in the literature.
  • Word endings and word variations.  Databases may need you to enter terms using truncation or wildcard characters in order to retrieve these variations.


  • Social media: sccial network, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TicTok

  • Teleconferencing: teleconferenc*, web conferenc*, video conferenc*, Skype, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Zoom

  • Virtual office: remote office, online office, working remotely, telework

Search Strategies

Develop an online search strategy using appropriate Boolean operators, proximity operators, and truncation / wildcard characters.  

  • (social media or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok) and (self-absorption or self-absorbed or selfish)
  • (teleconferenc* or web conferenc* or video conferenc*) and (effienc* or reliab*)


Many Ebsco databases include the expander "Apply Equivalent Subjects" that are automatically selected by default when performing unqualified keyword searches.  This may be helpful with relevancy of results and discovery of terms in the established subject headings in the controlled vocabulary.


Research Databases:

To locate articles from scholarly journals, search any of the following research databases:

Is it Scholarly?

Popular Articles

Popular materials are written at a level that can be read and understood by the general population. Popular materials may be written by authors who do not have specific expertise or training in the topic discussed, and the materials are often published quickly.

Scholarly Articles

Scholarly materials are written at an academic level and present the findings of scholarly research. These materials often go through a "peer review process" which validates the author(s) research methods and conclusions. To determine if an item would be considered scholarly, look for the following characteristics:

  • Length: The article is usually several pages long, and can be more than 20 pages.
  • Author(s): The article will always list an author or group of authors. Affiliations and credentials are often listed for each.
  • Audience: The intended audience includes students, researchers, and experts in the field.
  • Refereed: Research is reviewed by peers prior to being accepted for publication.
  • Illustrations: The article may include maps, tables, and graphs that support the text. Colorful photographs are rarely used.
  • References: The article will always include citations to research discussed throughout the article in the form of footnotes, end notes, and bibliographies.
  • Language: The article will be written using vocabulary used in the author's field or discipline.
  • Format: The article will follow a standard format.

Searching Multiple Ebsco Databases

1) Start out in one of our subscription databases provided by the vendor, Ebsco. 

For example, start out in Academic Search Complete.  Above the search box, located the link for "Choose Databases."

Screenshot from Academic Search Complete pointing to the "choose databases" link


2) Select any of the Ebsco databases you would like to search simultaneously.  Then click on "OK"

List of ebsco databases with Academic Search complete and Medline selected from the list.


3) Confirm your selected databases by selecting the "Show all" link above the search box:

Screen shot of Academic Search Complete pointing to link for "Show All" to list all databases being searched.


4) Review the databases listed and make any changes by selecting the "Choose Databases" link again:

Ebsco search box with four databases listed above: academic search complete, medline, psycinfo, and the psychological and behavioral sciences collection listed


Want to Learn More?

Many of the skills addressed in this guide are covered more in-depth in our Information Literacy Modules.


Review  Module 2: The Research Plan: Developing Research Questions: This module will discuss the earliest stages of a research plan: developing research questions using brainstorming and mind mapping techniques. 

Search Strategies:

Review Module 3: The Research Plan: Developing Online Search Strategies: This module focuses on basic approaches to developing effective online search strategies including searching with Boolean operators and truncation. 

Scholarly Sources: 

Review Module 5: The Research Plan: Popular and Scholarly Sources: This module distinguishes among popular, professional, and scholarly sources in order to aid in the research plan decision-making process. 

Database Choice: 

Review Module 6: The Research Plan: Choosing Appropriate Databases: This module focuses on choosing appropriate databases for specific research needs among the hundreds of databases available through The University of Akron Libraries. Choosing between databases based on coverage (general or subject-specific, dates covered, etc.) and formats available will aid in the research plan decision-making process.  

Searching Databases for Scholarly Articles:

Review the following two modules:

Module 9: Searching Periodical Databases (Basic): This module will lay the foundation for searching using periodical databases: performing basic keyword searches and examining database records for the citation, abstract, subject headings, and availability.  

Module 10: Searching Periodical Databases (Advanced): Building on the skills discussed in Module 9, this module focuses on more advanced searching of periodical databases, including using field-specific searches and limiters to locate focused information.  

Citing Your Sources

Maureen Lerch, Wayne College Library Director

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Maureen Lerch
Wayne College Library
1901 Smucker Rd.
Orrville, OH 44667
Subjects: Communication