Use brainstorming to come up with key words that will help you expand your search. Try to think of related topics, both more general and more specific, as well as synonyms for all of your terms. For example fashion could become: dress, clothing, costume, haute couture, la mode, Chanel, Christian Dior, etc. A mind map can often be a good way to start thinking of terms and topics:
Online tools for creating mind maps:
A research question is useful for guiding the rest of your research process, but it can change as you learn more about your topic. Start with a question you are curious about or a topic that your professor assigns to you.
Now that you have thought about these questions, you should try to write out your research question and include as many of these details as possible.
As you gather background information about your topic, your research question may change and that’s okay. Background information should inform you of what’s already known about your topic so that you can ask questions that truly require research to answer. Sometimes background information can be called “reference information.” In fact, there’s a whole section of Norlin Library that has reference materials.
One place you can start is Wikipedia, but be sure to check other sources including library subscription encyclopedias (see links in the "Reference Databases" box). You can use Wikipedia to:
Using your research question, identify the main concepts that are involved. Try to avoid general words like 'impact' or 'effect' because they are going to appear in all sorts of writings from many different fields. Stick to concepts unique to your research question. These concepts can be translated into keywords for searching.
Use the link below to learn more about how to develop strong search terms.
Encyclopedias and other reference sources are a great way to quickly learn about your topic. They will help you develop more keywords to search, as well as pointing you to other resources in their bibliographies.
Books often contain general overviews of a topic. Search OneSearch or Chinook to find books on your topic.
Find a book that is related to your topic, then use it's Subject Headings to search for similar books. Reference books often have Subject Headings that include terms like Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Characters, Biographies, Bibliographies, etc.
|Latin American literature -- Dictionaries|
|Portuguese language -- Glossaries, vocabularies, etc|
|Authors, Latin American -- Biography -- Dictionaries|
|Theater -- Latin America -- Dictionaries|
|Literary criticism -- European -- Spanish & Portuguese.|