If you are having trouble developing a research topic or understanding your assignment, be sure to ask your instructor or TA before you begin your research.
EXAMPLE RESEARCH TOPIC: Assess the impact that social media has had on victims of sexual assault. Find peer-reviewed journal articles that support your argument.
|Step 1: Identify key concepts||Key concepts from your research question are the most effective search terms to quickly locate relevant sources.||Underline key nouns from your research question.||Assess the impact social media has had on victims of sexual assault|
|Step 2: Identify alternative search terms||To find everything relevant to your topic in a database.||Brainstorm alternatives (synonyms, related terms/concepts, alternative spelling) for your key concepts.||
Key concept 1: Social media
Key concept 2: Victims
Key concept 3: Sexual assault
|Step 3: Consider using limiters (available in a library database)||In order to focus on articles that are appropriate for your assignment.||Choose limiters in a library database that are relevant to your research needs.||
|Step 4: Combine your search terms||In order to get more focused results, use Boolean operators (and, or) as well as the wildcard* and quotation marks " " to combine key concepts.||
And: Combines key concepts together to find articles that contain both concepts.
Or: Combine alternative search terms to find articles that contain either concept.
Wildcard*: Finds variations in spelling, prefixes, and suffixes (sexual* will find sexual, sexualized, sexually; violen* will find violence, violent).
Quotation marks " ": Search for the exact phrase within the quotation marks, rather than searching for the words separately.
("social media" OR "social network*" OR twitter OR facebook)
(victims OR survivors)
("sexual assault" OR rape OR "sexual* violen*")
|Step 5: Review your search results||Check if articles are appropriate for your assignment to ensure you find the right information to write a high quality paper.||
Check if you articles are:
|Step 6: Adjust your strategy||If you don't find relevant articles, change your search strategy.||
Too few articles? Try...
Too many articles? Try...
Adapted from The University of Manchester Library: Making Your Search Work (Cheat sheet)
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