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Last Updated: Jul 8, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Getting Started Print Page

Search Strategies

A sharpie can also be called a marker or a pen

Unlike searching in Google, library research relies heavily on the use of "keywords" - the words you enter into a search box. Since one author may use different words than another to discuss the same topic, you will want to brainstorm synonyms for important words, and conduct multiple searches.

Keep in mind that the words you use will influence the search results. For example, each of the following searches will yield different results:

When exploring resources, then, trying different phrases can help you see different perspectives on the same topic.

Additionally, conducting multiple searches with synonyms can help you find additional sources that one search alone might not reveal. For example, with a topic like laws, you might want to try words like regulations, statutes, or legislation. You can then conduct multiple searches, such as:

Using keywords in this manner will help you explore a wide variety of sources related to your topic.

 Questions to Consider

Q: For your topic, what words or phrases might represent different viewpoints (for example, "anti-abortion" and "pro-choice")?

Image via Flickr, CC 2.0


Using Keywords


Exploring your Topic

To brainstorm ideas related to your topic, you may watnt to use a concept map. A concept map is a graphical tool for organizing and representing knowledge. The map includes concepts (or ideas) enclosed in circles, and demonstrates the connections between ideas with linking lines.

Central American Concept Map

Using a concept map in this manner can help you brainstorm ideas (concepts) related to your topic, while also connecting those ideas. This map then can help you determine what areas you will need to research in order to explore your topic.

Mind Mapping Tools

 Questions to Consider

Q: What is the central idea for your topic? What other concepts are related to that main idea?

Q:What perspectives are you including in your concept map? Are any missing that ought to be included?

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