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Doing Research

Keyword selection

When you are looking for sources relevant to you topic, you may not be satisfied with the results that you find. In such a case you have to reconsider your searching strategy by using some of the following suggestions.

Keywords refinement

You can refine your keywords by

  • Combining multiple search terms in a search statement.
  • Substituting your search terms with broader terms to expand retrieved items.
  • Substituting your search terms with narrower terms to restrict retrieved items.
  • Using related terms, words that are closely related to another term conceptually.
  • Using synonym words or phrases that have the same (or similar) meaning as another term in the same language.

  • Example: Search term: nightmare disorder | Synonym: bad dream | Broader term: sleep disorder | Narrower term: insomnia | Related term: REM sleep

    Tip!: To find more terms on your topic, start from a relevant reading, your textbook, or browse on the internet.

Authors' keywords & Database subjects

Authors’ keywords

When authors publish their work, assign keywords to their publications. Authors' keywords describe their research topic. These keywords usually appear on the first page of an article, right after the abstract. Authors' keywords may prove to be simple words relevant to your topic like divorce or more sophisticated terms like intergenerational transmission of divorce . It is not easy to think of on your own the scientific terminology unless you read material that provides you with such words.

Database subjects

Databases provide subjects that describe the sources included in them. You can use these subjects as search terms. Usually the subjects are clickable. If you select one of them, it will direct you to more sources on your topic. The subject terms are assigned to the sources by database specialists, who organize the sources in the database.

Variables & Perspectives

Variables: The keywords that are related to your topic may not be enough for searching for information. Placing your topic in context may help you identify the variables, which may be affecting it.

Types of variables: 

  • Time period (e.g., World War II)
  • Race (e.g., African - Americans)
  • Age (e.g., adolescence)
  • Gender (e.g., men, boys)
  • Geography | location | culture (e.g., European Union, middle class, hip hop)

Perspectives: Τhe perspective from which you are viewing your topic, may also impact your searching. For instance, if you researched the topic of adoption, you could investigate it from the point of view of gay and lesbian couples, who wish to adopt children. You could alternatively, pick another perspective and research the topic from the point of view of adoptees, investigating whether they should have the right to know their biological parents.

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