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FCS 290 - Fall 2020: Researching Basics

This is a research guide for the course FCS 290.

From topics to keywords

Courtesy of Norwich Library

Keyword tips

Here are a few tips to remember about keywords:

1) Focus on nouns as your keywords, unless there is a specific verb or adjective that is is central to your topic.

2) Leave out generic words like "effect", "cause", "impact", and "change", since they appear in millions of article titles and won't add anything distinctive to your search.

3) If your concept is best represented by a multi-word phrase (such as "birth control" or "social media"), put the phrase in quotation marks in your search.  This will ensure that the library search tool will only find sources that use those words as a phrase.

4) The type of source you want may dictate the words you search.  For example, if you want magazine articles or popular books about prison sentences for illegal drug users, you might use words like "prison" or "jail"; if you want scholarly journal articles by experts in the field of criminology, you might use "incarceration" instead.

5) Add another concept to your search if you're finding too many results.  This may involve one or more extra keywords that the sources would have to match, meaning that fewer sources will remain in your results.  Conversely, remove a concept if you're not finding enough.