Before you start researching, you should plan out a search strategy. Think about the research question you're trying to answer and brainstorm a list of possible keywords. What terms best describe the information you're looking for? What kind of sources do you need? Taking the time to articulate exactly what kind of information you need before you start looking will help you retrieve more focused, relevant results. To walk through the process of developing a search strategy, check out the example below!
Using the steps below to structure your research can help keep you on the right track. Remember as you work that research is a cyclical, iterative process - you may need to reevaluate your search terms multiple times, brainstorming new keywords as you refine your topic.
Quick Tip: Keep track of the search terms you've used and the databases you've tried so you don't repeat unsuccessful searches. Keeping a research journal is a great way to develop your skills and ensure you remember what keywords and strategies worked and which ones didn't.
As you work on planning out your own search strategy, consider making a concept map or mind map to help get your ideas down on paper. We've included a sample concept map (attached below) to give you a place to start as you practice refining your research topic.
Content adapted from the Teaching, Learning and Academic Support page on how to "Develop a Topic and Dissect Your Research Question".