Before you begin searching for information, you must identify keywords related to your topic. Find keywords:
- within your research question or thesis
- in encyclopedias used in background research
- in bibliographies found at the end of books and articles
- in a thesaurus
- by asking a librarian
When brainstorming keywords remember to ask yourself the who, what, when, where, and why of your topic.
Who is involved?
A specific age group, occupation, ethnic group, gender, etc.
What is the problem?
What is the issue facing the "who" in your topic? Health concerns, job and economic trends, contaminated drinking water?
Where is it happening?
A specific country, region, city, physical environment, rural vs. urban, etc.
When is this happening?
Is this a current issue or an historical event? Will you discuss the historical development of a current problem?
Why is it happening / Why is this a problem?
You may want to focus on causes or argue the importance of this problem by outlining historical or current ramifications. Or you may decide to persuade your instructor and class why they should care about the issue.