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Alternative Energy - ELEC221

Starting Your Information Search

Where Do I Start?

When you first start searching for information about your topic, it is always best to first familiarize yourself with the topic through a reference source, such as Wikipedia online or the Research Starters within OneSearch, or a book that explains the topic and subtopics. 

Not only will this help focus your research, but it will also help you learn some key words or terms that you can then use in your search.

Remember, the search process is iterative. This means that you may have to try to many different keywords or combinations of words to find the information you are looking for. The more you learn about a topic will also change how you search. Don't worry, this is part of the process. 

If you ever have any questions, please Ask a Librarian.

Brainstorming Keywords

Developing Keywords to Use in Your Initial Searches

When searching using OneSearch or another database, you will only want to enter the key words or key concepts of your topic. You want to avoid typing full sentences. 

One way to develop keywords is to brainstorm the most important words or concepts that are associated with your research paper topic. Another way is to use the words or terminology you learned in your initial research. When you use terminology that authors are already using, you will have more relevant results. 

Because you may need to try multiple words in order to find the most relevant information, it's a great idea to think of all the synonyms or related terms for your main concepts.

For example, if I want to search for information about how will climate change affect the U.S. consumer price index, some terms you may consider searching are:

  • climate change
  • global warming
  • consumer price index
  • CPI
  • temperature increase
  • drought
  • goods and services
  • United States
  • U.S.
  • price data
  • market rate

Depending on your research topic, your list could be much longer or shorter. Remember, if you need help, Ask a Librarian

Using OneSearch Results to Develop Key Words

Another way to develop relevant search terms is to look at a record of a book or article. There may be keywords or subjects listed in the record that you can then search.