Q. What are synonyms and why do I need them for searching databases?
Synonyms are words or phrases that mean the same thing as each other.
Before searching a database, make a list of synonyms for each of the search concepts in your research question. For help with identifying search concepts, see: 'What are search concepts?'
Synonyms help ensure your search finds all relevant results. Database search tools will only find the exact words you type into the search engine. Many subjects use a variety of language to talk about the same thing: if you use just one word to describe a concept, then results using a different word may be omitted from your results.
Example: 'Cost effectiveness' could be expressed as:
value for money
Synonyms may include smaller parts of a larger concept. Example: 'United Kingdom' can be expressed as:
By also including constituent components, you may retrieve more results:
Once you have a list of synonyms for each subject, next connect the concepts using Boolean operators. See the FAQ below for help with this: