To successfully search for information on your topic, it is best to determine the main concepts and then find keywords for those concepts. The keywords can become your search words. In general, you should search library databases with 2-3 keywords, rather than your whole topic question or a sentence.
For example, your research question is "Does racial profiling undermine the U.S. legal system?" First underline the keywords as shown.
Then begin brainstorming terms to help you develop a search strategy.
|racial profiling||U.S.||legal system|
|law enforcement discrimination||united states||courts|
|civil rights||fair trial|
|"driving while black"||lawsuit|
|airline profiling||court cases|
|stop and frisk|
In many databases, you could start your search by typing racial profiling united states justice and it would automatically turn that search into:
racial profiling AND united states AND justice
This is a search using Boolean logic.
A more advanced Boolean search could be done like this:
("racial profiling" OR "law enforcement discriminat*") AND ("united states" OR federal) AND ("legal system" OR court* OR justice)
In this example the * will also find different endings for the words, such as discrimination or discriminate and court or courts.
Here are some more tips for choosing keywords.
You can also find additional keywords by searching your topic in a database, finding a relevant item and noting the terms used in the description of that item.