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WS 377U Feminist Spirituality - The Goddess - Fall 2017: Developing Your Topic and thinking about where you'll need to look

Tips for successful searching



After watching the Youtube video ( on developing a search statement from a topic, use the worksheet below with your topic.

My topic as best I can state it right now
(!Don't worry if your topic is not as focused as a statement at this point; this exercise is to externalize some of your thinking about your topic and also expose some gaps where you may need or want more information).


Chart for identifying elements


one part of my topic

another specific aspect of my topic

another specific aspect of my topic

Alternative  term for this word

Alternative  term for this word

Alternative  term for this word

Alternative  term for this word

Alternative  term for this word

Alternative  term for this word

My topic would fall under the umbrella of what broader topic or subject area?


My topic is a broader example/instance/concept of what more specific thing?




Somebody else studying a similar topic to mine might be looking at things like?


A really good example of what I’m talking about is:



People who study _______________ would likely be interested in my topic.  (For help with filling in that blank, review the Databases by Subject page to get a list of disciplines.)

Moving from a Research Question to a Search Strategy in 4 Steps

Moving from a research question to an effective search strategy involves breaking down the question into its Core Concepts, brainstorming Keywords, and then constructing an effective Search Strategy. You can do this in 4 steps.

1. Articulate your research question

Is union representation good for public employees in Oregon?

2. Break down your research question into its core concepts.

  • Union Representation
  • Public Employees
  • Oregon

3. Now list alternative ways of describing these concepts.

Your list can include broader, narrower, and related concepts.

Core Concept Brainstorm
Union Representation: Collective Bargaining labor union labor dispute SEIU
Public Employees: workers state worker employee staff
Oregon: Pacific Northwest Washington United States Portland

4. Create multiple search strategies by combining words from your concept brainstorm list.

  • Union AND employee AND portland
  • (Labor Union OR collective bargaining) AND state work* AND oregon
  • Etc.


  • Use truncation (an * at the root of a word to find different word forms. For example, librar* will find libraries, librarian, librarians, etc. 
  • Use parentheses and the OR operator to "nest" your search--different terms/phrases that represent the same concept.
  • Use quotation marks for phrase searching.
  • Use Boolean operators to connect search terms:
    • OR -- finds results with either or both terms -- it is used to broaden your search.
    • AND -- finds results with both terms -- it is used to narrow your search.

Acknowledgement: The content in this box was based off of Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh's work at Georgia State University Library.