#1 Identify your question. Identify the key concepts and related terms. Tip: You may want to re-phrase your question. Background reading can help you identify related terms and further define or narrow your topic.
#2 Find an appropriate search tool. Consider your subject matter, discipline of study, type of information needed (e.g. peer reviewed articles)
#3 Start with a simple search based on your key concepts. Tip: You may also have to look at literature that refers to one (not all) aspects of your research question.
#4 Use specific search strategies.
#5 Search and skim results. Look for the language and terms that researchers use and that the database assigns to articles (Subjects).
#6 Switch up your searches. Use promising new terminology. Your search may become more sophisticated.
#7 Explore bibliographies to locate other articles, books, or authors who have written on the same topic. Find known items. Tip: See "Find a Known Item" tab on this guide.
Reference sources, like specialized dictionaries, specialized encyclopedias, handbooks, almanacs, bibliographies, atlases, and gazetteers, help you answer basic questions, such as definitions, statistical information, procedures, geographic information, and overviews on topics.
Databases assign Subject Headings or Keywords to describe the main concepts of each article or resource. For example, the article:
is assigned the Subject Headings: Teenagers; Cellular telephones; Perceptions; Radiation; Risk factors; Automobile driving
Use the Sociological Abstracts thesaurus to look up the main concepts of your research question to identify associated Subject Headings.