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SS 444 Presidential Scholars Senior Seminar


This guide will help you to do the research associated with your project. It has videos to teach you how to conduct research, find primary sources, and understand peer review as well as recommend databases and resources for finding materials.

Choosing a Research Topic That Works



Types of information

Star figure pointing to a pie chart What type of information do you need:
Statistics? Directory information? Pictures? History? Biographical information? Are you looking for historical or current information? Several points of view on a single topic?

The answer can help you choose the best source of information.

Developing Keywords & Search Terms

Scrabble tiles spelling the word keywords

Once you have a topic, you will want to start thinking about how to boil it down into usable keywords and how to turn these keywords into successful searches in databases. For any searchable resource the recommended search terms will vary by your topic. 


Here are some tips that can help you to develop and refine your search terms:

  • Consider synonyms (i.e., clothing, clothes, garments, attire, costume). You might even want to refer to a thesaurus to see what synonyms it lists for your search terms.
  • Consider broader and more narrow categories. If you are looking for information about boots, you might want to consider searches for footwear and accessories as well.
  • Look at the suggested search terms in OneSearch, Google Scholar, and databases. Often these resources will provide suggested alternative search terms that can be useful.
  • As you start reading abstracts, articles, or books, write down any terms that you see that might be useful to explore further.
  • Consider alternate forms of your search terms and even alternate spellings. For example, color versus colour. Many tools will include both spellings, but sometimes running the search both ways can be useful.

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