The Mansfield Library provides a full suite of video tutorials to help you with topic selection, searching, citations, copyright and more.
2. Consider the scope of your topic. If it is too narrow, you might have trouble finding enough information. If it is too broad, you might be overwhelmed with information.
3. Turn your focused topic into a research question. Know that your research question may change depending on what sorts of resources you find. While you should have a topic or question in mind, allow the sources you find, along with your interests, to help shape and refine your topic further.
Questions to guide the development of your research question:
Brainstorming keywords for your topic will help you refine your topic, find the most information about your topic and save you time by helping you search databases in a more efficient and systematic way.
(Why? Different authors will refer to the same concept in different ways. Having a comprehensive list of keywords to search will help you find more information about your topic!)
1. Pick out the main ideas in your research question. For example, the main ideas in this research question are in bold: "How is climate change affecting migratory animals in Montana?"
2. Take each of your main ideas and brainstorm as many synonyms, related words, acronyms, initialisms and spelling variants as you can. For example, for "climate change":
3. Do this for each of your main ideas. Searching all the variants you can come up with will give you a broader selection of relevant information. Consider making a chart to keep track of which combinations of keywords you have searched for.
4. Know that there is no such thing as a perfect search. Searching is a process, so having a list of potential keywords will help you begin your research. You’ll find that different combinations of keywords will bring up different results in different databases. You can still learn something from every search you perform, so know that this list of keywords can continue to grow throughout your research process.
Chat with a Librarian
Use the Chat in the lower right corner of library webpages from 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-1pm Friday. Submit questions using the Email a Librarian link outside of those hours.
We will respond to messages within 24-48 hours.
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