After completing this module, you will be able to:
You will apply and learn about information literacy competencies while completing this learning module.
Whether you are searching for traditional print library resources or using electronic, online resources, the development of a search strategy is essential. A search strategy is simply a plan for conducting your information search.
This is the general overview of an effective search strategy:
Online search tools and resources appear and disappear daily, but the strategies and processes of searching for information remain constant.
While this module focuses on developing search strategies for the open online environment (such as websites found via Google or Bing), you will find that these same strategies are transferable to other research tools, such as subscription library databases, which we will explore in greater detail in Module 5.
Selecting a Research Topic
Before attempting to search for open online resources, you should have a clear idea of your topic and the kinds of information you will need.
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Not sure where to begin? To identify a research topic, try:
Suggested topics from instructors, texts, or readings
Your own business or personal interest area
Browsing the following websites and your library’s subscription databases. The websites are geared toward college students so they’ll be especially helpful for your assignment.
College Library Databases
To Log On:
Username = MDC student or employee number
PIN = last 4 digits of MDC student or employee number
Focusing Your Topic
When writing a paper, you should focus on narrowing your topic as much as possible. Start off by asking yourself these questions. What do I already know? What do I think I know? What do I need to know?
A concept map can help you organize concepts central to your research topic. Here are a few examples:
Stating Your Topic as a Research Question
Here is a concept map in action:
How to develop and narrow a topic by creating a research question.
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What is a research question and how to choose a topic?
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Formulating Your Thesis
Your research question helped you brainstorm and explore your topic in order to learn a little bit more about it. An open-ended research question cannot be answered yes or no.
My sample topic: Why is Climate Change such a controversial topic?
The thesis statement should answer your research question in two parts: WHAT and WHY.
WHAT? Climate change controversy (What claim are you making about your topic?)
WHY? Predicting weather, opposing views, and media coverage (Why should we care about your claim? Why is it important?)
Thesis: Climate Change inspires controversy because of the uncertainty of predicting future weather patterns, debate between scientists and politicians, and the biased reporting from the news media.
In this module, you have learned how to:
Recognize the purpose of selecting a research topic is to learn new information, solve problems, answer questions, and/or generate new ideas
Explore and organize concepts related to a research topic
Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope for the assignment
Generate keywords and synonyms based on a research question