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ENGL 1020: English Composition 1020

This guide will help you devise a search strategy from a research question, find resources, and get through that big paper.

plan your search effectively: strategize a plan

Tutorial: Search Strategies

Develop a game plan for getting started on your research project, isolate the keywords in your research question or topic, brainstorm more keywords by searching, and combine keywords using Boolean logic.

  • Keywords represent main ideas and concepts in your research topic. 

    • You start with your research topic or question. To search online and in databases, you need keywords. 
    • Read background information on your topic and write down words related to your topic. These words will help you brainstorm keywords.
    • Try some of these words in the Libraries' QuickSearch box. Does useful information come up? Do your words match words that researchers are using in their journal articles?
  • Four types of keywords (and examples) to consider:

    • Narrow - Corn is a narrower word for food.
    • Broad - Dog is a broader word than chihuahua.
    • Related - Education is related to testing and common-core standards. (They have a relationship, but aren't the same thing.)
    • Similar - Teenager is similar to young adult.

Brainstorming keywords gives you opportunities to search multiple ways, to discover different results. You'll be amazed what outcomes a little tweak in your thinking does.

Start putting together your keywords in a smart way. Watch this video to learn more: