After you have developed a research question, you'll need to break that question down into "keywords"--the most essential elements of the research question. These terms are what you will search with in library databases. It also is important to brainstorm related words and concepts, so that you have multiple terms to mix and match--this will maximize your chances of finding sources.
The background reading you did when choosing your topic is also relevant to selecting keywords--look through what you have already read to get a sense of the language others have used to describe this topic. Use this vocabulary as a starting place for listing keywords.
In the example below, preliminary reading on the topic of campus diversity groups helps identify a dozen keywords related to this topic. These words and phrases can be combined to generate different search results.
If you haven't done any background reading on your topic yet, take some time to explore your idea in some of our library databases:
When you are trying to find arguments for 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|
Complete this concept map with the primary topic in the center and secondary concepts in the smaller bubbles; identify like terms (synonyms) for each secondary concept. (See the example below).
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