When you do research, you are asking complex, specific questions that will not always fit neatly into a Google search box. Just writing your whole research topic into the search box on the Library website or a database like JSTOR will not work!
Fortunately, there are tools available to help you construct powerful searches. Follow the steps below, and you will find better results more quickly.
Starting with your topic or research question, try to break it down into the basic concepts. What is your research about, using only a few words?
This is a good start and will retrieve some good results, but there might be other words used to describe these concepts—and unless you add those words, you will miss out on extra sources!
The next step is to brainstorm synonyms or other words authors might use to describe the same idea:
|Arguments||rhetoric, thesis, persuasion|
|Canadian politics||(no synonyms required)|
There is no limit to how many synonyms you can include, but usually two or three should be enough—writing down all the possible search terms for your topic can be very time-consuming.
Now, we take our concepts and synonyms and put them into a structure that LibrarySearch or a database can understand. The example below is using the system on the Library website, called LibrarySearch, but you can use the same approach on databases like JSTOR, ProQuest, and more.
To access the Advanced Search, click on the button underneath the main search bar:
Then, we are going to group our concepts and synonyms in the advanced search interface.
Here are some tips when using Advanced Search:
Here's what our search above would look like as an advanced search:
We still have a lot of resources here, so the next step is to filter our results. Check out the Filtering section for tips on narrowing your results to the most relevant sources!