1. Explore Your Topic
1. What is your topic?
Write down any keywords, ideas, concepts, or questions.
When did the concept first appear? e.g. genetics, the other, mental health, antisemitism, postcolonialism.
2. Clarity: Is your topic vague or clear? What words are clearer?
3. General/Specific: Is the topic too general, or is it specific? What words are more specific?
4. Broad/Narrow: Is your topic broad or focused? What ways can you use to narrow down your topic?
5. Break down complex topics: If your topic is complex and convoluted, separate the concepts into several smaller topics.
2. Explore Contexts and Relationships
1. Are there related topics, concepts, theories, history, movements, authors, and etc. that you need to research?
2. What is the context of your topic: historical, geographical, cultural, socioeconomic, political, psychological, religious, and etc.?
3. The Research Process
1. How would you describe your research or writing process?
2. What did you learn in the research process?
3. What new concepts or ideas did you discover? Add them to your notes.
4. What new questions do you have now? How would you approach them?
For example, you can narrow down your topic when it is too broad or when you find too much information.
You can expand, refine, or revise your search words to make your search more focused. Both are necessary. Research is a fluid, creative and elastic process.
You can use connectors AND, OR, NOT and techniques including * (the wildcard or truncation mark), " " (double quotes) to refine your search.
Apply the strategies above & combine keywords to create search statements that best describe your topic.
You can break down your topic into several search statements if you are exploring a complex topic.