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.
Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement . . .
Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
Is generally located near the end of the introduction; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.
- Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.
- Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
- The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
- Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
A good thesis will generally have the following characteristics:
- A good thesis sentence will make a claim
- A good thesis sentences will control the entire argument.Your thesis sentence determines what you are required to say in a paper.
- A good thesis will provide a structure for your argument.A good thesis not only signals to the reader whatyour argument is, but how your argument will bepresented.
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
- migration AND politics
- 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
- migration NOT bird
- 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.
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)
- International Relations
- Palgrave Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations in World Politics
- International Relations and the First Great Debate
- The state and international relations
- Theory and history in international relations
- Realism and international relations
- Theory and methods in political science
- Political science : a comparative introduction
- Political science : a global 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
Tips for searching newspaper databases
- Think Tank Search - search limited to think tanks dealing in public policy, including NGOs (non-governmental organizations)
OMNI Search engine located on the library home page
use filters on the left hand site and narrow down results to "Books"
Cambridge University Press eBooks
Columbia International Affairs Online
Oxford University Press eBooks
eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
Canadian Publishers Collection
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.
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, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more.
See also our list of recommended databases on the Political Science subject guide, which includes:
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
- International Political Science Abstracts
- PAIS Index
- Project MUSE
- Taylor & Francis Journals Online
- Scholars Portal Journals
- The fundamentals of political science research
- Political science research methods in action
- 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