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Library 101

Your Search Strategy

Break down your topic into its most basic parts. You might revisit steps 1 and 2 as you proceed through step 3. That's ok-- remember, research is not a straight line from topic to paper, but a more iterative (or repetitive) movement through the steps.

IDENTIFY THE MAIN CONCEPTS

Write your research question down. Identify the concepts in that question.

For example, if you're interested in the question "What are the economic, social, and health impacts of the slow food movement on the local community?", your key concepts are:

economic

social

health

slow food movement

MAKE A LIST OF THE KEYWORDS

For each concept, make a list of keywords related to it. Use synonyms, and go back to your background research to find academic vocabulary and terms.  

For example, with the body image question above, you could use related terms like local food or financial implications instead of slow food and economic impact. 

TRANSFORM INTO A SEARCH STRATEGY

FORMULATE A SCHOLARLY ARGUMENT

Scholarly arguments are different from regular arguments. They aren't just disagreements. Scholarly arguments are complex and generally focused on questions with many possible answers. What's important then is not that you "win" or "lose" a scholarly argument but that you make a persuasive case.

So how do you make a persuasive case? Well, you provide good enough evidence that a smart, reasonable, and skeptical reader will believe you're probably right. Finding information you can use as evidence is the objective of your research.