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COMM 109 - Speech Communication - Rodriguez-Rentas: Search Strategy

Develop a Search Strategy

Now that you have a Topic, you need to search for Sources to support your argument. Use your Topic Question for the Keywords you will use to find Books and Articles.

Your keywords are the meaningful subject words in your topic sentence.

Ex: The NFL is {not} doing enough to protect players from the long-term effects of concussions.


Think of new Keywords that are related to your Keywords.

Concussions; Head Injuries; Head Trauma; Brain Injuries

NFL: National Football League, Football

Protect; Prevent, Safeguard



Try different Keyword combinations when searching.


Use AND to link terms together and narrow your search:

Concussions AND Football


Use OR to link terms together and broaden your search:

Concussions OR Brain Trauma AND Football


Use the Asterisk * (truncation) to search for different forms of a word:

Injur* searches for Injury and Injuries


Use Quotation Marks to keep Phrases together:

"Head Trauma"


If you are looking for pro and con arguments on your issue, you may want to add an addition term such as editoral, argument, commentary, debate etc to find those types of articles.

Follow Monroe's Motivated Sequence

While searching for articles, follow Monroe's Motivated Sequence to conduct searches that will help support your argument:

Need: Football players suffer debilitating brain trauma

Solution: Change game rules / Increase safety of equipment

Visualization: Rules of similar contact sports that do not have same injury rates (e.g. Rugby) / New helmet designs that have decreased impact rates to heads

Action: Propose a plan to decrease head trauma suffered by football players

Search and re-search

Once you've started finding articles on your topic (see the Finding Articles tab on where and how to search), look at the subject terms to get ideas of other keywords to search under. When you read the abstract, make note of additional terms to look up.


When you read the article and abstract, make note of additional terms and concepts to look up. Write down names and organizations mentioned to search for information those groups produced. Think about the kinds of questions they can help you answer:


  • A scholarly article by a neurologist who has studied the damage done by multiple brain injuries. (What happens to the brain when it suffers multiple concussions).
  • Articles by sports analysts or coaches on why these types of injuries happen during the course of a game. (Why does this happen in football and not other sports)
  • Interviews with football players about the symptoms they have suffered or insight into what teams are doing to protect them (What has a particular player experienced)
  • Team and sports organization policies on player health and injury prevention, along with guidelines and regulations. (How to minimize the risk)
  • Analysis of equipment performance in a sports medicine or engineering journal. (Does it protect players).

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