Databases are organized collections of data. We subscribe to our databases and they require a username and password when off-site. Doing research on databases allows students to access many different types of information that in most cases have been published and checked for accuracy.
Generating Key Words
The first step in thinking of keywords is to define your topic. You can't research or write about a topic if you can't articulate what it is! Try writing your topic down as a sentence or a question.
Think of keywords to describe each concept involved in your topic. Think of more than one, in case your first choice does not work. Focus on synonyms and related terms. What are other ways to state your topic? Is there a specific word that will describe an abstract concept in your topic?
Sample topic: Does the death penalty unfairly target minorities?
Concept 1: death penalty
Alternative Terms: capital punishment, execution
Concept 2: unfairly targeting minorities
Alternative Terms: discrimination, racism, prejudice
Alternative Terms: African-American, Hispanic, ethnic groups
Tips for Researching
- If you have a questions - ask them! Ms. Zbinden is always available to answer research questions.
- Using the databases we covered in class is important. They offer good information and will create citations for your sources.
- Use books. If you don't know how to find them ask Ms. Zbinden or one of the IRC staff members.
- If you use the Internet for information, make sure you review the tips for deciding if the information is valid - see the "Evaluating Sources" tab.