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Research and Instruction: Preparing to Research

Identifying subjects

How to Identify Search Terms

Follow these steps to begin your research project:

  • Identify the topic of your research. 
    • Example: How will global warming affect Louisiana coastal communities? 
  • Once you have articulated your topic, try to pick out important concepts or keywords which you can use when you search for articles.
    • Example: How will global warming affect Louisiana coastal communities
  • Identify the subject area.
    • For the global warming and Louisiana topic there are multiple subject areas to consider when trying to choose a database. The issue of global warming could be described as environmental or scientific. The fact that the issue of a specific geographical area is also a factor means that the subject area also involves regional issues.
  • Think about the important concepts and subject area of your topic. Choose keywords that you can use to search the databases.
    • Example: In the topic "How will global warming affect Louisiana coastal communities?" the important concepts are global warming and the Louisiana coastal region. One way to make sure that your search for articles is effective is to think of synonyms, related terms, or additional words to describe your topic.
    • ​​global warming: greenhouse effect, climate change
    • Louisiana: gulf coast, gulf states, Lafourche Parish, New Orleans
    • coastal communities: land loss, erosion, beaches
  • With your list of subject terms, you can now begin looking for sources using Ellender Library's online catalog and databases.