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Prof. Cianci - General Psychology - Spring 2019: Search Plan

Start a LIst of Keywords = Search Terms

Wherever you search, you enter words that you hope/expect will retrieve the just right sources and information. Building a list of words and terms that are linked to your topic is a basic step to successful research!

Step 1: Begin with your task and topic.

Read over your task as assigned.  Look for any words that express the main concepts.  

Step 2: Generate additional keywords.

Brainstorm more terms you can use in searching and writing. There are specific strategies you can use to help you with this step.

  • Think of synonyms of each of the words you already have on your list.  
    Example:  Prescriptions has many synonyms including prescription, medicine, drugs, OTC drugs and so on.
    GABA is also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid and the results you retrieve will vary.
  • Add plural and singular forms of the words. Search engines need to be told when you want more than one of an idea.  Example: prescription is different to a search engine compared to prescriptions.
  • Think about related terms. Use the 5 Ws to prompt your thinking. Answer the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Which? How?  Example: Is your search tied to the whole United States or just New York State? Was there an incident or case study that occurred in a specific year or place?
  • Think about broader or narrower terms that might be of use.  Example: The placement of natural remedies might be part of a larger discussion of alternative medicine.

Step 3: Consider consulting a thesaurus for additional search terms related to your topic.  (See examples below.)

Step 4: Add to your list of keywords throughout your search.

As you search and read articles, you will encounter new ways of talking about ideas related to your search. Add to your list. 

Remember: The words on this list will help you find the BEST information possible. These same words will help you write (create) your best paper.


Mining addtional keywords to add to your search terms list from a dictionary definition.Mining a thesaurus for synonyms to increase your list of search terms.

Research 101: Searching is strategic

Build a Better Search Strategy TOOL

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