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Speech Research Guide

An introduction to library resources and services for speech students.

Coming up with Search Terms

Search Strategies

1.   Brainstorm keywords, related terms and synonyms. Examples...  

  • aggression, violence
  • video games, gaming
  • children, adolescents, preteens, teens, teenagers, girls, boys

2.   Use AND to focus your search on a smaller result set. Examples... 

  •  video games AND violence AND teens
  •  violence AND teens AND prevention

3.  Use OR to link synonyms and gain a larger result set. Examples... 

  • video games AND (teenagers OR adolescents OR teens)
  • video games AND (violence OR aggression)

4.  Put quotations around your terms for exact searches
  Example: "video games"

                         "social media"

The keywords you come up with represent the concepts and themes you're exploring. You can incorporate keywords into a question, and as you explore your topic in more depth you can turn that question into a hypothesis. For example:

1.   Keywords: teens, violence, prevention

2.   Question:  How can violence between teenagers be prevented?

3.   Hypothesis: Violence between teenagers can be prevented using anger management programs in schools.

Develop a research plan

ASK QUESTIONS TO DEFINE YOUR TOPIC Or    A 'concept map' may be helpful: 

 Who?        What?       Where?       When?          

             Why?         How?          So What?

What is the definition?

What other words could be used to research this topic?

What are some causes ?

What are some results or consequences ?

What larger social or political issues are related to this topic?

research concept map showing a large circle reading 'what is required?' with smaller circles overlapping it with labels such as 'definition' and 'recent examples'[source]