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
Hot Topics (Midway University)
To Log On:
Username = MDC student or employee number
PIN = last 4 digits of MDC student or employee number
Focus Your Topic
When writing a paper, you should focus on narrowing your topic as much as possible. A concept map can help you organize concepts central to your research topic.
Stating Your Topic as a Research Question
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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Start with your topic: e.g. Childhood Obesity
List all the concepts and themes related to the topic using a concept map.
Generate a research question using an idea from your concept map, e.g., Is it the school’s responsibility to provide a nutritious lunch to school children? (Topic example from SIRS Knowledge Source)
Creating a Research Question and Identifying Keywords
Start with your research question: Is it the school’s responsibility to provide a nutritious lunch to school children?
Identify the keywords or main concepts from your research question: responsibility, nutritious, lunch, school children
Think of synonyms or alternate words to use as keywords, for example: healthy could be a synonym for nutritious.
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