After determining your research topic or question, and before you search for any resources, it is worthwhile to identify several keywords that concisely capture what you want to find. In order to narrow down your topic and select the most appropriate keywords, ask yourself the following questions:
|The "5 Ws" or
Questions to Ask Yourself
|Sample Research Topics and
Who? (Main Concepts - Person, Group, etc.)
|Amish AND youth OR "Amish teenagers" AND religion|
|What? (Synonyms for Main Concepts)||Anabaptists AND "social life and customs" AND Rumspringa|
|Where? (City, State, Country, etc.)||"Lancaster County" AND Pennsylvania|
|When? (Year, Decade, Century, etc.)||1989 OR 1960-2020 OR "19th century" OR 1800s|
|Why? or How? (Answers Your research Question)||This is the end product of your research, such as a presentation or paper.|
Please use the keyword worksheets below to get started with your course assignments. Note: There is a BLANK worksheet, as well as a SAMPLE one, that illustrate how to use the worksheet.
Use the RIGHT database for your topic. (See the Sources listed in this guide.) You're not typically going to find music information in a database about American politics or supply chain management. When in doubt, consult with your liaison librarian, Heidi Abbey Moyer, for more assistance.
Use the RIGHT keywords in strategic ways. Some examples of this include:
Use BOOLEAN LOGIC to construct an effective search strategy. This includes the terms "AND, OR, NOT," which are usually capitalized. Some examples are below:
Use more ADVANCED search features such as truncation, phrase searching, and limits, which are database-specific search options (e.g., type of publication, date, age groups, etc.) and will allow you to limit your results in many different ways: