What are Keywords?
Keywords are words or short phrases that represent the main ideas in your research topic or question.
In Google, you can search using full sentences. Library databases are not as smart as Google and do not understand full sentences, spelling mistakes or conversational language.
Instead, you have to consider the words that authors are using the write about a topic.
To come up with keywords, identify the most important words in your research question or topic.
- State your research question or topic.
Do video games increase violence in teens?
- What are the key concepts? Think nouns and noun phrases.
Do video games increase violence in teens?
- List related terms
- Consider how different people or communities talk about the concept.
- Consider how language has changed over time.
- Think of broader terms, narrower terms, or synonyms.
Example: "video games", teen*, aggression OR violence
Consider these questions to generate more search terms
- WHO: Who is involved? Whom does it effect? Is there a specific population you will focus on?
- WHERE: Where did it begin? Do you want to focus on a specific geographic region?
- WHEN: When did it begin? Do you want to focus on a specific timeframe?
- WHY: Why does it matter? Why do you think we should investigate?
Try different search combinations and strategies! The process is iterative
Develop a search statement to search databases (including news databases), the catalogue, and other academic sources
A search statement includes a list of keywords, combined using Boolean Operators (AND; OR; NOT)
- AND - this will combine concepts, all of which must be found in your list of results
- media AND children
- OR - either this concept or that concept (or both). This is helpful for generating a list of synonyms. Use synonyms to anticipate the different ways different authors may refer to the same idea. A thesaurus can be helpful for this
- internet OR web OR online
- NOT - do not include this concept
- Mexico NOT city
- Quote marks - find a specific phrase
- "human rights"
- Truncation - any other combination of letters to follow
- Canad* - will find Canada, Canadian, Canadian's, etc.
- journalis* - will find journalism, journalist, journalistic, etc.
- Combine one or more of these operators
- Put a list of synonyms in brackets
(smartphone OR "mobile phone" OR "cell phone") AND (societ* OR cultur*)
Pick a research topic:
- Read your syllabus (assignment instructions).
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the assignment instructions.
- Narrow or broaden the scope of your topic so that it is "doable."
What's scope? Scope refers to the "people, places and things" or "who, what, when and where" that you are studying.
Identify key concepts:
Define and get an overview of your topic or find definitions of key terms and concepts:
- Oxford Reference - Use dictionaries to help with terminology. Encyclopedias provide background information, an overview of topics and issues and often lead you to further readings
- Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (online)
SAGE Research Methods ( supports beginning and advanced researchers throughout a research project, from writing a research question, choosing a method, gathering and analyzing data, to writing up and publishing the findings)
Government Information - covers a world of subjects including public policy issues, legislative documents and statistics that enrich research.
Newspapers& Magazines (use Boolean Operators)
- Canadian Newsstream - Canadian
- Factiva - Canadian and international
- Nexis Uni - Canadian and international
- PressReader (Full-image international newspapers)
Explore News Guide for more news-related resources
Think Tanks - can give an appreciation of government action or inaction in an area, they are research institutes which perform research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture.
Start with OMNI Search engine located on the library home page, allows you to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously.
Sage Public Administration Abstracts
Emerald Management eJournals
Google Scholar For seamless access to the fulltext of articles that are part of the library's collection, take the link from the library page. If you run into difficulty, the instructions for a workaround are on the details page.
- Do not limit yourself to these: See Databases by Subject list
- Look at the Subject Guides that best relate to your topic. For example: Philanthropy, Health, Renewable Energy, Canadian Studies, Indigenous Policy, Business, etc.
- Government & Legislative Libraries
- Government of Canada Publications: search "policy" or "consultations" under subject for policy publications
- LegisInfo (Parliament of Canada)
- Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
OMNI Search engine located on the library home page
use filters on the left hand site and narrow down to:
- Books and select option "Available online"
- Google Scholar
- Google Think tanks (custom search engine)
- Google Advanced
- restricting content to file type
- type in your topic and then "filetype:pdf" or "filetype:doc"
- restricting content to site .org or .gov sites
- type in your topic and then either "site:.org" OR "site:.gov"
- restricting content to searching titles only
- type search "intitle: "climate change""
- to exclude words from your search
- to do this search use operator "-" (minus) eg. jaguar speed -car
Search for sites that link to site of interest:
Find quick information about a site:
Search for words in a URL:
- use Google Australia, Google UK, Google.de etc.
- truncation/wildcard searching is not supported
- Google & Google Scholar show only the first 1000 results
- nesting terms in parentheses- eg. (science OR technology) AND (Ontario OR Alberta) - does not work as it does in other databases
- restricting content to file type
- Use Social media (often organizations and individuals make information about their publications available via social media, alternative yet authoritative literature and informing source)
What is cited reference searching?
A simple and useful way of finding additional resources on your topic is to track citations backwards and forwards.
- Find a useful paper, check the reference list (these papers will have been published BEFORE your paper), AND
- Find a useful article and check who has cited it (these papers will have been published AFTER your paper).
Cited reference searching, or citation analysis, also called citation tracking, is a way of measuring the relative importance or impact or an author, article, or publication, by counting the number of times that author, article, or publication has been cited by other works.
There are a number of tools available; however, no single database covers all works that cite other works. Searching across several databases is necessary to ensure complete coverage.
Why is this important?
- keeping track of how many times and where a publication is begin cited can help you gage the impact that article has in your discipline
- if the article has been cited, the database will provide a link to the citing article/author
- to locate current research based on earlier research
- to find out how a particular research topic is being used to support other research
- to track the history of a research idea
- to track the research history of a researcher
Use our main search tool, OMNI to do cited reference searching. Click on these icons to either "find sources cited in this" OR "find sources citing this".
Use our Cited Reference Searching page to find out which of the big databases allow you to do this and how to do this.
- Research and Writing in International Relations
- A Student's Guide for Writing in Political Science
- The craft of research
- Conducting your literature review
- Mining social media : finding stories in internet data
This guide provides basic information on how to cite sources and examples for formatting citations in common citation styles.
You do not need to cite common knowledge (widely-known, generally-accepted information that is not attributable to one source).
Why is Citing Sources Important?
- To give credit to ideas that are not your own
- To provide support for your argument
- To enable your reader to find and read the sources you used
- To avoid infractions
What Needs to be Cited?
- Exact wording taken from any source, including freely available websites
- Paraphrases of passages
- Summaries of another person's work
- Use of another student's work
- Use of your own previous work