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UST 259: Natural History of Cleveland: Keywords and Searching

This Research Guide will help you with your research assignments in the UST 259 course.


Before you start looking for sources for your paper, take some time to brainstorm your KEYWORDS.

Think of synonyms and related terms, as well as broader terms and narrower terms. You will be searching on different keywords and combinations of terms to find information. Review your syllabus, assignment instructions, textbooks, and readings to identify search terms. Possible terms include: biodiversity, climate, conservation, ecology, fauna, flora, forests, geology, glaciers, horticulture, human impact, human settlement, natural history, plants, soils, topography, trees, vegetation.

When searching for information, you will try different keywords and combinations of terms.

Here are some keywords as examples:

Cleveland Metroparks AND history                    Cuyahoga River AND fire

Cleveland Ohio AND biodiversity                       Cuyahoga Valley AND deer

Cleveland Ohio AND ecology                            Lake Erie AND pollution

Cleveland Ohio AND geology                            Northeast Ohio AND ecology

Cleveland Ohio AND natural history                   Ohio AND plants

Identify additional keywords by reviewing your search results, particularly the SUBJECTS assigned to items and the ABSTRACTS of the articles.


  • Logic used in online searching
  • Use Boolean operators to combine search terms in library catalogs, research databases, and search engines
  • The most common Boolean operators are:  AND, OR, NOT

Boolean Operator: AND


  • Use AND to connect your main search terms
  • AND limits results by requiring all terms to be present; fewer items are retrieved


climate AND Ohio

Lake Erie AND pollution


Boolean Operator: OR


  • Use OR to connect synonyms or related terms
  • OR expands results since only one of your search terms needs to be present; more items are retrieved


global warming OR climate change

sustainable OR sustainability

Boolean Operator: NOT



  • Use NOT to exclude a term; fewer items are retrieved


Lake Erie NOT Ohio

pollution NOT water



Try NESTING your search terms by using both AND & OR:


Cuyahoga River


(fire OR burning)



(rain OR snow OR precipitation)