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Finding Additional Search Terms

Information Literacy GEO this assignment addresses:

Develops an effective search strategy.

Most students are familiar with popular search engines like Google and Yahoo. However, cluster search engines are unique because they group the results into topic clusters, which makes the task of locating additional search terms and refining a search much easier.

Objectives of assignment:

  • Students will use cluster searches to narrow the focus of a broad topic.
  • Students will understand how to use cluster searches to refine a search and return more relevant results.
  • Students will use cluster searches to find additional search terms, such as synonyms and related concepts.


This exercise requires the use of a computer lab with internet access for active learning. It requires the instructor to discuss the importance of keyword selection in the development of an effective search strategy. The instructor should show the students how to access Yippy from the Lakeland Library website, how to manipulate search results using the clouds and other settings, and how to utilize clouds to narrow the focus of a topic and generate additional search terms. This exercise can be customized to address topics and issues relevant to any subject area.

Assignment: Cluster Searching in Yippy!

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Cluster searches use synonyms and related concepts to group your search results into topic clusters, also known as clouds, making it easier to find additional search terms and to find a narrower focus for a broad topic.

Several "cluster search" search engines can be accessed from the Lakeland Library homepage ( Under the Search & Find menu, select the Best Internet Info option.

Under Search Engines, find the Cluster Searches drop down menu.

List the three cluster search engines provided:


For this assignment, use Yippy (

Write down the topic you are going to search:

What keywords will you use to search this topic?

How many Top results did this search yield? _________________________

What was the total number of results retrieved from this query?


In the menu on the left side of the screen, you are able to view the results of your search in four different ways (Clouds, Sources, Sites, Time). First, the results are divided into Clouds, which is just another way of saying topic clusters. The different clouds sort your results into topics associated with your initial search. They can help you narrow the focus of the initial search and find additional search terms. List three clouds that you might be able to use as additional search terms.


You are able to limit your results by selecting a cloud. Select one of the clouds you have listed above to answer the following questions.

Write the name of the cloud you selected:

How many results are there for this cloud?

A quick way to refine a search is to limit it to a specific domain name. In Yippy, you can view your results based on the domain name (gov, edu, org). Look at the menu above All Results and change the tab from Clouds to Sites. What three domains have the most results?


Important summation/review points:

  • "Cluster search" engines are good tools to help students select a focus for a broad topic.
  • Clouds, or clusters, can help students generate additional search terms.
  • Encourage students to explore and experiment with other search engine features that may help them refine their searches.
  • Require students to use the additional search terms they found using the clouds to create new searches that can be run in catalogs and databases.