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NSG 317 - History of Nursing

How to Develop Search Terms

This tutorial will review strategies to help you come up with good search terms in just 2 minutes.

Book Search Tips

Remember that you may need to be flexible with your search terms for books, as they are broadly categorized and not always fully searchable like digital articles.  Finding book resources will involve a 2 step process:

STEP 1: Search term development

In the JMU Libraries Catalog, take a minute to think about the variety of key terms that you can use to find the largest number of results

  • use broad terms and concepts
    • instead of Clara Barton --> Red Cross history
    • instead of a specific person --> nurse biographies
  • use synonyms or related concepts
    • World War I nurses --> military nurses
  • use thesauri or dictionaries to help you discover other related terms
You will most likely need to find a book about the broad topic of World War I nursing or medicine in the catalog.  Pulling the book off the shelf will be the only way to determine if the book has content specifically on your person or organization.

STEP 2: Evaluating a Book's Relevancy

Finding books that will help your research involves 
  • review the Table of Contents at the beginning of a book
  • review the Index
For this project, a select number of pages or a chapter would serve as a resource for this assignment.  Also, remember that most books will have a bibliography listed at the end of the book that you can use to find other related resources for your research.

If you have difficulty finding your information among these sources, contact me at