Skip to Main Content
Vista Ridge Home   /  Library Home

Seminar Research: Research Strategies

As you learn about and employ specific research strategies keep some more general concepts in mind.


  • is a process that requires time, effort, and persistence.
  • increases your research abilities as well as your knowledge of your topic.
  • may challenge your preconceptions about a topic.

Using multiple sources allows you to:

  • Compare sources to evaluate the accuracy of their information.
  • Find information on different aspects of your topic.
  • Compare interpretations from different authors, organizations, or fields.
  • Make up for weaknesses of different source types.
  • Find enough information for your analysis of the topic.

Generating Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that describe your research topic. They are used to search for information in the catalog or in databases. When searching for information, you want to employ a variety of search terms because there are multiple ways of describing the same topic.

Start with a question that summarizes and focuses your research topic and identify key concepts associated with the question. Then, generate a list of synonyms and related terms. 

Example: "How can educators implement service learning in rural schools?"

Identity synonyms for key concepts.


Educators Service Learning rural schools
teacher community service remote institutions
administrators civic engagement nonurban agricultural  areas academies

Identify related concepts: education, policies, procedures, applied learning, projects, student engagement, staff time, community support, community needs

Tools and Strategies

Most databases offer tools to help you retrieve relevant information. Look for limiting options (date, type of publication, etc.) before and after conducting a search.

Boolean Operators
Tools to use in combination with your search terms to narrow or broaden your search.

The Boolean Machine

Use the Boolean Machine to see a visual representation of what happens with each operator.

Mining Reference Lists
Find the sources that your article used to write the paper, these help to lend credibility to the article and provide you the ability to find other sources regarding your research topic.


Identifying Keywords