Welcome! This is a step-by-step guide designed to help you do university level academic research using library resources.
If you are having a difficult time selecting a topic for your project, try these resources for ideas:
The first step is to identify the main concepts in your research question. Use the Search Strategy Worksheet in the left-hand column of this page to help you.
Once you identify the main concepts, brainstorm for synonyms and related words. For example, you could use Terrapins, but someone else might use the term Terps; in order to find all of the relevant results you will have to use both terms.
Boolean operators are used to connect keywords in a way that all search engines understand. The most commonly used ones are: AND and OR.
Example: Maryland AND (Terps OR Terrapins)Be careful when combining AND and OR in the same search sentence as the search engine may not interpret your search the way you intend because of the order of operations (like in math class). Use parentheses to keep ORs together.
You may also choose to limit your search results by excluding certain terms. To do this, use NOT. For example, if you want articles about a certain journalist's career but not editorials about them, you could search:
(Cronkite AND career) NOT editorials.
Use the NOT connector sparingly, as you may eliminate some articles or information that could be useful. This connector can, however, be a helpful tool if you have a large number of items in your results list and you want to refine your search.