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HIST 352 - Women/Gender/Sex in U.S. History: Tips for Research

Search Tips

  1. Keep your searches simple (at least at first)
  2. Break down complex questions into different parts
  3. Brainstorm different ways to describe what you are looking for
  4. Remember that research is an iterative process (do multiple searches with different combinations of terms and using different strategies)
  5. Learn from your search results (there is no such thing as a "failed" search)
  6. Keep your research organized (for example, keep a list of search terms you've used or have not yet used)


Important Process for Research Success: Generating Keyword Process

  1. Write out your research question. For example: "How does exercise affect the mental health of college students?"
  2. Pull out the most important words from your research question. exercise, mental health, and college students.
  3. Think of synonyms for these keywords.  Exercise: workout, fitness. College students: university students, post-secondary students.
  4. Think of broader keywords. Mental health: well-being. Broader keywords are helpful if you aren't getting enough results.
  5. Think of narrower keywords. Mental health: anxiety. Narrower keywords are helpful if you're getting too many results.
  6. Start searching a library database or research tool with your keywords. Remember to try out different keyword combinations to get the best search results.
  7. Collect additional keywords as you search.


Searching with keywords and synonyms - IME 553 - Production Systems -  LibGuides at Wichita State University

Keyword Organizer

Keyword Organizer

Generating Keywords Activity

An example of the main concepts in a research questionSynonyms of key concepts


Generating Keywords

What is your Research Question?




What are the main concepts in your Research Question?






What are some synonyms (or related terms) for those concepts and your topic?

Concept 1.


Concept 2.


Concept 3.


Work together with your partner to try to help each other generate other keywords.