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.
4.Consider Using Some Search strategies
- " quotations to search phrases.
- * an asterisk to find word variations.
- AND, OR, NOT to combine terms.
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)
- Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
- Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics (online)
- Democracy and public administration
- Paths to Democracy Revolution and Totalitarianism
- Democracy A Comparative Approach
- Interrogating Democracy in World Politics
- Capitalism, socialism, and democracy
- Democracy and post-communism political change in the post-communist world
- Democracy: A History of Ideas
- Rethinking the Value of Democracy A Comparative Perspective
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
Why use journal articles?
- They are more up-to-date than most books.
- They are “peer reviewed” by other scholars in the field who check for academic integrity.
- Every article will contain cited references that appear as footnotes and/or bibliographies.
Start with OMNI Search engine located on the library home page, allows you to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal titles, and more.
See our list of recommended databases on the Political Science subject guide which include:
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
- International Political Science Abstracts
- Canadian Public Documents Collection
- Project MUSE
- Taylor & Francis Journals Online
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"
- 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