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.
Additionally, please keep in mind that words used to describe science fiction and fantasy literature, a myriad of subgenres, as well as sci-fi films, varies widely. For example, there are numerous genres and terms for describing science fiction, including the following selected keywords: alternate history, alternate/parallel universe, alternative history, artificial intelligence, cyberfiction, cyberpunk, hard science fiction, heroic fantasy, low fantasy, magical realism, paranormal romance, sci fi, science fantasy, slipstream, speculative fiction, speculative literature, supernatural fiction, terraforming, transrealism, and weird writing/weird science fiction.
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: