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Shapiro Library

Getting Started with Research at Shapiro Library

This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.

Choosing Keywords


When choosing keywords for your topic, you'll want to consider the major concepts addressed by your research question(s) and come up with a list of synonyms or related terms. For example:

If your research question is: What is the connection between smoking and depression among teenagers?

Major concepts for this topic might include:

  • smoking
  • depression
  • teenagers

Synonyms or related terms might include:

  • smoking OR tobacco OR cigarettes
  • depression OR mental health OR mood
  • teenagers OR teens OR adolescents

When doing a keyword search it's a good idea to try a number of different search terms and phrases. Don't be discouraged if your initial keyword search brings back too many, too few, or irrelevant results--you'll want to try multiple keywords, synonyms for your keywords, different combinations of keywords, etc. to bring back the best results. Check these videos for more help choosing and using keywords: