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Start Your Research

Find a Topic

Define your topic Coming up with a topic for your paper can sometimes be the hardest or most frustrating part of the research process

Understand the assignment
Is it an assigned topic or can it be one of your own choosing?
How many pages should it be?
Are you required to use certain types of materials, such as scholarly articles?

Keep your question clear and open-ended
Unless you're writing a book or dissertation, think about how much you can cover in a research paper.

Select something that interests you!
If possible, choose a topic that you find interesting and that you want to know more about.

Search Techniques Tutorial

This image links out to Colorado State University's tutorial on Beginner: Search Techniques. The tutorial covers how to use AND, OR, & NOT effectively while searching.

Keywords and Boolean Operators

Divide the topic into a few main concepts

  • Words for main or key concepts are known as keywords—important if initial search attempts don’t find much that’s useful.


Expand the list of keywords to expand results

  • Look through reference sources, subject headings, and article abstracts to expand your list.

Sample topic: Is memory loss related to aging?
The keywords are memory loss & aging

memory loss: alzheimers,amnesia,forgetfulness aging: aged,old age,elderly


Link similar keywords with OR:

boolean OR  AND Boolean OR multiple

Combine these two collections with AND to get a larger search result:

Boolean AND