Before searching for information related to our research question, we first need to identify our topic's basic concepts and their synonyms or other keywords.
Sample Topic: What strategies can the United States use to improve the legal residency process for immigrants?
|Step 1: Identify the basic concepts||Step 2: List alternative keywords|
|United States||America, USA, United States of America|
|legal residency||citizenship, naturalization, green card, immigration law|
|immigrants||lawful permanent resident, immigration|
The final step is to select a library database and search for the topic using a few different search tricks.
Type your search terms into the search box in a library database or Google Scholar to find articles related to the topic.
|Narrow your search||
Use the word AND (in capital letters) to ensure that each result contains all search terms.
Example: citizenship AND policies
*You don't have to use AND in Google Scholar, just put the search terms next to each other
Example: elderly immigrants
|Search for a phrase||
Use "quotation marks" to ensure that each result contains that exact phrase.
Example: "United States"
|Expand your search||
Use the word OR (in capital letters) to ensure that each result contains at least one of the specified search terms.
Example: immigrants OR "lawful permanent residents"
|Search for alternate word endings||
Add an asterisk* to the end of the root of a word to search for alternative word endings.
Example: citizen* searches for citizen, citizenship, etc.
|Exclude search terms||
Use the word NOT (in capital letters) to exclude terms from the search results.
Example: elderly NOT children
|Combine search tricks||
Use (parentheses) to create more complex searches by mixing and matching your search tricks
Example: (immigrants OR "lawful permanent residents") AND "United States" AND "immigration law"
When searching in the Library catalog or a database, type your search (like citizenship AND policies) into the search box to find resources related to your topic.
When searching in Google or another search engine, using a country's specific government domain extension can help you restrict your results to sources from a particular country's government websites.
For example: "climate change" AND site:.gov would show you results from U.S. government websites that mentioned "climate change".