Choose a Topic

Choose and Develop a Topic

  • Think about your topic in terms of a question.
  • Pick out the important terms or keywords from it.
  • Come up with other related terms or synonyms

For example:

Questions

  • How does binge drinking effect college students?
  • What effect does violence in the media have on children?
  • How do state laws differ on the death penalty?

Keywords

  • binge drinking, college students
  • violence, media, children
  • state laws, death penalty

Synonyms / Related Terms

  • alcohol, young adults
  • TV, movies, youth
  • execution, capital punishment

Use your keywords and related terms to develop your search for sources on your topic.

Using Boolean logic to refine a search in online databases:

For example:

  • alcohol and college (tells the computer to search for sources which contain the words 'alcohol' and 'college')

Using truncation to find all forms of a word

For example:

  • violen? and school? (tells the computer to search for the words 'violence' and 'violent' and 'school' and 'schools')
  • Be sure to check the HELP in the database you are searching to be sure that truncation is allowed and what the symbol for it is. (Some databases use an * rather than the ?)