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Digital Tools for Project Management & Collaboration: Defining a topic

A workshop in the "Preparing Research-Ready Students for the Digital Age" Certificate series

Defining your research topic

Defining your Research Topic

Identify Key Concepts and Terms

1) Identify the key concepts in this topic:

Public K-12 schools will not be made safer by arming public school employees.

2) Brainstorm for related terms.

"public school*" OR "elementary school*" OR "high school*"

"made safer" OR "school safety" 

arming public school employees OR "armed guards" OR "school safety guards"

3) After you've done some searches, you will find subjects and synonyms describing the article or book that can help you refine or tweak your terms.

Search Tips

Quotation Marks--Use quotation marks to search for a phrase-glues words together

  • "video games"
  • "sleep deprivation"
  • "college student"

Boolean Logic: using AND, OR, NOT

  • AND narrows a search--can join dissimilar terms
    • "college students" AND "sleep deprivation" requires the two phrases be found within the same article
  • OR broadens a search (OR means MORE)--joins similiar terms & synonyms
    • groundwater OR aquifer either word could be found in an article
  • NOT narrows a search--removes unwanted terms
    • "obesity prevention" NOT anorexia removes anorexia 

Truncation--Use a symbol to return various endings of a word
(* is the most common)

  • violen* will search for violence, violent, violently
  • diet* will search for diet, diets, dietary
  • teen* will search teens, teenager, teenagers

Combine search strategies for more efficient searching

  • (groundwater OR aquifer) AND environmental damage*
  • (soft drinks OR soda pop) AND diet*

When you search in a database e.g. Academic Search Complete. Look for other Subject terms or synonyms assigned to articles that can be used to describe your original terms.

Search Credo Reference

Search reference books for general information, definitions & details about a topic.

Question: Which search works?

Which of the following search strategies use Boolean properly to obtain usable results?

After you chose one of the searches, copy it and paste it into the Credo Reference search box above to discover how maneagable the results would be

Question: Which search works?
"sleep deprivation" OR "college student*": 0 votes (0%)
violence AND "video gam*": 0 votes (0%)
sugary drinks AND (obesity OR diabetes): 0 votes (0%)
"plastic bottles" AND environment OR health: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0