The Information Search Process
Define topic Brainstorm keywords Search Revise and search again Use results
Brainstorm for topic ideas
When selecting a topic, be sure to choose a subject area that is of genuine interest to you. Consider these questions:
CQ Researcher is a great place to find ideas. This full text database provides overviews and the pros and cons on current controversial issues with complete summaries, bibliographies and timelines.
Find background information
If you are interested in a topic which is unfamiliar to you, reading an encyclopedia article or book chapter about the subject can help you define your topic idea. Sources to consult for background information include:
Choose a database
What is a database? Library databases are searchable collections of information in electronic format. Databases provide citation information about the items they index and some databases provide full-text of the articles.
General databases like Onesearch or Academic Search Premier are great for exploring a topic and include magazine, journal and newspaper articles on many subjects.
Use subject specific databases if you are doing in-depth research on a topic. You can find recommended databases in the subject and course guides.
Keywords and subject headings
Develop a list of keywords and phrases: keep track of words that you discover in the search process. See Creating Search Queries for more detail on choosing keywords.
Visit us at the
Knowledge Center Research Desk