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Prof. Packer - Eng. 101 FALL 2022: Developing a Search Strategy

Planning Your Search Strategy

Search Strategies: using keywords, synonyms / related concepts, and truncation:

Relevant keywords are necessary for effective research. You can start by taking keywords from your thesis statement or research question.

There are other ways to develop additional keywords.

1. Use synonyms and related concepts: 

         Are there other words that mean the same thing as the words in your question? It can help to brainstorm before you begin your search.

  • Global warming OR climate change OR greenhouse gas
  • College OR university
  • Marijuana OR cannabis

Look at the keywords and subject terms for articles that appear in your search results. Can you use any of those?

2. Use truncation:

       You can broaden your search results by typing an asterisk symbol  * at the end of the root of a word. When you do this, the computer will search for alternative endings for the word you have typed. 

For example, typing play* will yield results for:‚Äč

     Plays, played, player(s), playing, playful, playfully, playground       

3. Create parameters:

            Limit your topic to a specific period or geographical region.

             Ex. Global warming in the Arctic

                 Depression in college students

4. Refine your topic:

             Start with a broad topic and narrow it down by considering its associated issues. 

             Ex. Broad topic:  Mental illness

                  Narrowed topic:  Teen suicide

                  Research question: Is teen suicide on the rise due to the social isolation caused by the pandemic?           

Why Do Background Research?

When you do background research you can find:

  • Words or phrases that are specific to your topic.
  • Information that answers basic information on your topic. 
  • Major ideas related to your topic.
  • People, places, time periods that are relevant to your topic.
  • Additional readings on your topic.

Databases for Background Information

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