CJ 101 Introduction to Criminal Justice (Swenson)

Strategize Search Terms

Make a list of search words.

To begin to search successfully you must use a variety of words that relate to your topic 

  • Think of the different words and phrases that people might use when they discuss your topic. Start with what you know.
  • Consider broader and narrower words, and synonyms (words that have the same meaning).
  • Consider point of view, In other words, think about how to approach your topic with words that reflect different perspectives. For example: 
    • formerly incarcerated people vs. former offenders
    • juvenile delinquents vs. youth or teenagers
  • As you search, write down additional words that you come across.
  • Identify search words through your background research and in the scholarly journals databases. 
  • You can ask a librarian for help in finding words that are used in your field of research.  

Sample Topic: Corrections & the US Prison System

Find your Focus & Search Terms (Keywords) in Reference

The launching point for your research this quarter is The US corrections or prison system. This topic is huge! 

Find a focus for your research.

  • Step 1: Type either "prison system" or corrections into the search field of the Holman Library database GVRL.

Type in search terms- "prison system" for ex

  • Step 2: Browse the list of titles for ideas on how to focus your search. 

browse for ideas ideas from title list

  • Step 3: Click on Subjects on the upper right and browse the list of subjects to find a focus and keywords.

Browse subjects for a focus and ideas

  • Step 4: Click on a title that sounds interesting and use that article to help you find a focus and search terms. 

keywords and focus from an article

 

Who:

poor people, White people, African American people, people of color, youth, gang members, judges, prosecutors, police, corrections officers, communities, etc.

What:

corrections, prison, state prison, juvenile detention, restorative justice, jails, halfway houses, parole, probation, sentencing disparity, racism, poverty, war on drugs, mass incarceration, etc.

Why:

justice, equity, rehabilitation, punishment, recidivism, treatment, etc.

Video: How to use keywords to form a research strategy

Source: Holman Library - Green River College (2013, October 23)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Learn how to go from your topic to a research question and identify keywords and phrases to research your topic.