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English Composition 1001

Research made easy.

From Question to Keywords

Once you have formulated your research question, you need to identify key concepts and their related keywords.

1. Eliminate the words in your research topic that will not help you retrieve relevant articles. What you have left will be the keywords you'll search:

How can robots help nurses do their jobs more efficiently?

2. If you ended up with more than 3-4 keywords, think of the most important ones. It's best to add keywords later if the results are too broad.

3. Think about whether there are synonyms or related terms that you might want to search in addition to your main concepts. (You want to try to predict what other terms authors might have used for your topic.)

robots

robot*

help

assist*

aid

enhance

nurses

nurs*

efficiently

efficien*

effective*

optimiz*

An asterisk (*) will find multiple forms of the word. For example, robot*  will find robot, robots, robotic, robot-assisted, etc.

Narrowing Your Search

  • First, find some background information on your topic. Go to:
  • Use subject words you discover through the background summaries to help focus your search. You can also use the subject terms you discover in article databases like Academic Search Completeto refine your search. Consider the following ways to narrow your search:
    • time period: 1960s, twentieth century
    • geographic area: China, Cincinnati
    • types of people: teenagers, women, boys
    • aspects of a topic: stereotypical, psychological, sociological, historical
  • AND to combine ideas and focus your search.
  • quotes to keep phrases together; for example:
    • adolescents AND smoking AND "heart disease"
    • women AND pregnancy AND "fetal alcohol syndrome"
    • lung cancer" AND Ohio

Broadening Your Search

  • First, find some background information on your topic. Go to:
  • Use the resources above to find synonyms for your search terms or use the subject terms you discover in an article database like Academic Search Complete to broaden your search.
  • Use OR to search as many synonyms of the word as possible; for example:
    teens OR teenagers OR adolescents OR young adults
  • Use truncation (*) to retrieve multiple versions of a word; for example:
    will retrieve child, children or child's

Here are other examples using OR and truncation:

(teen* OR adolescent*) AND (heroin OR marijuana OR drug abuse)
(child* OR teen*) AND (ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) AND (medication or Ritalin or Methylphenidate)

Be sure to use parentheses to keep the words you combine with"OR" together.

Useful Terms when Researching Debatable Questions

When you are trying to find arguments on a particular side, the words "pro" and "con" may not work and words like "for" and "against" may be ignored by the search engine.

Here are some terms to try:

Both sides of the debate "Pro" arguments "Con" arguments

argument*

aspect*

opinion*

controvers*

debate*

advocate*

champion*

proponent*

support*

sympathize*

 

advantage*

benefit*

opponent*

antagonist*

 

 

 

 

disadvantage*

drawback*

shortcoming*

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