This video was created by Purdue University Libraries. It focuses on effective search strategy, and the importace of a research question.
1. Choose a preliminary topic. Once you begin researching, you might change this slightly or completely throw it out.
3. Develop a search strategy using your keywords.
4. Use Boolean operators (and/or/not) to refine your searching.
5. Find useful terms in your search results and retry your searches.
Your first step in any project will be to choose a topic.
But choosing a topic isn't as simple as saying "I want to write about diabetes." Searching for diabetes will return an overwhelming amount of information. So you'll need to narrow your topic and come up with the keywords you’ll need to search for books and articles on your topic…and this is before you even start research and writing!
When searching for information about your topic, whether in the library catalog or on Google, it's important to come up with an extensive list of search terms. Search terms are important concepts related to your topic. They also might be synonyms for words that mean the same thing. You need to look for different variations of words because not everyone will use the same terms to describe a topic. Think about the death penalty. If you only searched using that phrase, you would miss out on a lot of good information that refers to the same concept as capital punishment.
Let's say you are looking for information about why the 1990s are referred to as the Dawn of the Information Age, particularly in terms of how we began to use computers to communicate.
Step 1: Identify the main concepts in your search.
1990s Computers Communicate
Step 2: Take each one of those concepts and brainstorm related words that might be useful. You might have to consult other sources for help.
Where do you find keywords and synonyms?
For our research question, we might come up with the following words:
|Nineteen Nineties||personal computers||
24-hour news cycle
|1990's||World Wide Web
|America Online (AOL)||
Step 3: Now that have a list, combine these terms using Boolean Operators to create searches.
SOURCE: Jefferson Community and Technical College
The video below explains what the three main Boolean Operators are and how you use them. From Lexy Spry & Emily Wixson, Chemistry Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Step 4: Try combinations of these words when you go to search for information in the library catalog, the library databases and Google. Searching is a trial-and-error process, so be prepared to try a lot of different searches before you learn which ones will produce the best results.
Select a topic that:
Gather topic ideas from:
Narrow topic by identifying ideas or concepts included in broader topic. For example:
Broad topic: Preventative Medicine
Narrow topics: Hygiene, diet and nutrition, vaccination, stress reduction, reproductive health, dental health
Sources to help you narrow your topic:
Write your topic as a thesis statement, or short sentence that:
Search strategy definition: mapping out the key ideas of your topic in order to ease the search for information.
Make a list of keywords related to your topic.
Develop search terms.
Be sure to check the Locate tab for step 5