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*Get Started with Research*

Easy to follow guide on essential steps of the research process: Choosing and refining a topic, creating effective search strategies, finding books and articles, evaluating information and more!

Create a search strategy

Searching by Keyword

It is important to map out how you will go about searching library databases, the library catalog, or even search engines like Google Scholar for research materials on your topic prior to beginning your search. 

Steps for Creating a Search Strategy
1. Summarize your topic
2. Identify main concepts (keywords)
3. Identify synonyms, alternate words and/or related words
4. Try different combinations of keywords

Example: How does exposure to smokers affect children who have asthma?

What are the main concepts or keywords?
.....smoking, children, asthma

Think of synonyms, alternate words or/and related words.
.....secondhand smoke, smokers..... toddler, pediatric, child .... allergies, breathing problems

Develop your search strategy using the terms above.

  • Mix and match terms. If one keyword doesn't work, try to vary your keywords with synonyms.

Boolean Operators
Boolean operators, found on the advanced search pages in databases, help to narrow or broaden your search. The most useful are AND, OR, NOT which help to connect keywords or concepts.

You can use more than one Boolean connector in the same search statement, such as:

Depression AND Teenagers OR Adolescents
Smokers AND Children AND asthma OR breathing problems
Anorexia AND males AND college