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Research Guide

How to do research for an academic paper

Search Strategies

- Formulate a plan of action for your research.

- Make a list of keywords that relate to your topic. Next to each keyword, list at least one synonym. A couple of places to find synonyms are Wikipedia or a thesaurus.

- Make a list of subject terms associated with your topic. These are controlled vocabulary terms used by a database to identify resources by their main subject areas. You can locate subject terms by doing keyword searches in the Library Catalog or in a database and then locating the list of subject terms associated with the books or articles that match your topic. See an example of finding subject terms in the Database Search page.

- If your search term is comprised of two or more words strung together, use quotation marks around them in the search box. For example, "social media". This is called phrase searching and will filter out any search results where the words social and media are present in the article but not next to each other. It makes your searches a lot more precise.

- Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to narrow or broaden your search.
Using AND will narrow your search because all of your search terms must be present in the search results.
Using OR will broaden your search because any of your search terms can be present in the search results.
Using NOT will narrow your search because you will be excluding certain words from the search results.