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Get started with research

Learn how to use the library resources to get started with your research.

Choose main concepts and keywords

Before you start searching for information, first identify the main concepts in your research topic and do some preliminary brainstorming to come up with a list of related keywords. Google can be useful in this regard because it suggests keywords related to your search query, but you’ll need to go beyond Google for your research. Whether you’re using the library’s Discovery search tool, or searching the library databases directly, it’s important to be thoughtful about the keywords you use.

Library search tools and databases use the keywords you provide to retrieve results that are relevant to your topic. Consider the example topic, “the effects of advertising on children's mental health”. The main concepts here are "children" , "advertising", "mental health". Once you identify the main concepts, think about other words you can use to describe them. Brainstorm synonyms and other related words to describe each of your main concepts. Consult a thesaurus if you need help. For example, other words to capture the concept of “children” are “youth” and “kids”.  “Advertising” could be similarly described as "commercials" or "media". By brainstorming keywords to describe your main concepts, you are better able to find useful and relevant information. You will also likely find additional terms in the books and articles you retrieve from your initial search, which you can use as you continue searching.