ENGL 127 Writing: Social Sciences (Martin)

For students in Aley Martin's section of English127

Mapping out your Concept, Keywords, and Search Strategies

Develop your topic with a Concept Map.

One Search for an Overview

Use One Search to get an overview of resources and issues addressed.

Type in a search term and browse the results to get a sense of some of the issues addressed on your starting concept. 

  • Peruse titles in the results list for ideas
  • Use Subject limiters on the left to find subtopics

A little more on concept mapping and keywords:

Find strong keywords to use in your research

Keyword search strategies (in 2 minutes)

Source: "Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies" by Sarah Clark, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to use Booleans, truncation, and quotations for effective searching.

Booleans & other Search Tips

You use keywords to search library tools or the web. Keywords are search terms that describe the specific concepts or issues of your assignment theme and/or topic. Here are a few tips about using keywords:

  • Put phrases in quotes:

    • Ex: "gender roles."

  • Keywords have synonyms:

    • Ex: for tv, also try television, television programs ... children's televison, soap operas, broadcasting, media, or popular culture.

  • Strategize both broader and narrower keywords to help you find relevant info and to help you find and focus your exact topic:

    • Ex: Broader for tv = media, popular culture, broadcasting

    • Ex: Narrower for tv = children's television, soap operas, television news...

  • Combine keywords with Boolean operators "AND" and "OR" to get more relevant results.

    • Ex: Use "AND" to combine terms to narrow and focus your search (women AND combat)

    • Ex: Use "OR" to combine terms and broaden your search (men OR masculinity).

  • Truncate to search for multiple forms of a word

    • Ex: teen* = teens, teenagers, etc.

  • Write down the keywords and subject terms you come across as you research! 

Step 1: Develop a Concept Map

Map your concept & research

Use a concept map to lay out different aspects of your starting topic.

This can help you:

  • Identify key words for research
  • Identify a narrower focus for a broad topic
  • Identify subtopics to address in your essay

Step 2: Identify Keywords

Building Keywords

Use the worksheets below for more tips on keywords and search strategy - and to begin to map out your own!