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Prof. Mathews - Spring 2022

Developing your research strategy

Use synonyms and related concepts:

Think of other words that mean the same or similar things as the words in your question. It can help to brainstorm before you begin your search.

Global warming OR climate change OR greenhouse gas

Teens OR teenagers OR adolescents OR high school students

College OR university

Marijuana OR cannabis

Vaping OR e-cigarettes OR electronic cigarettes

Look at the subject terms in your search results and see if you can use any of those.

Use truncation:

You can broaden your search results by typing an asterisk symbol  *  at 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 crim* will yield results for:

Crime, crimes, criminal, criminals, criminology, criminality​

Play* will yield results for plays, played, player(s), playing, playful, playfully, playground       

Permi* will yield results for permit,  permits,  permitted,  permission,  permissive,  permissiveness, permittivity

Refine your topic

Start with a broad topic and narrow it down by thinking of some of the issues associated with it. 

Ex. Broad topic:  Mental illness

Narrowed topics:  personality disorders, exercise addiction, depression, bipolar disorder

Research question: Is borderline personality disorder more prevalent in women than in men?           

Selecting Keywords

Selecting Keywords

Keywords are also considered search terms -- words that you enter into the database search engine. They are the key concepts of your research topic and/or research question.

Selecting keywords is a multi-step process that involves:

  • identifying the main concepts of your topic
  • brainstorming synonyms and antonyms that could also be used to describe your topic
  • spell out abbreviations

Searching databases with keywords

Search databases with keywords - Lehman College:

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