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History Resources: Research Questions

It's all about the KEYWORDS!

When you begin looking for research sources within Primo or other library databases, your search results will only be as helpful as the KEYWORDS you have typed in your search box! 

1. When considering your topic, you will need to come up with a list of possible keywords, search terms or phrases that are related to your topic. You will need to have a general understanding of your topic and be able to identify concepts that are relevant to your topic. 

2. Once you have identified potential keywords, be prepared to combine those search terms in your database's search box to see specific sources of information that include the words you are searching for.  

3. Look over your search results. Are there other search terms you could also use? Are there more specific keywords you could use? Does the database suggest other search terms? 

4. Use the database features and tools to REFINE your search results to limit sources more specifically, by date range, for example. 

5. Follow the clues! Continue to look at your search results and try different combinations of search terms until you find appropriate sources to use in your research project.

Need more help? Check out our library guide "We Have a Handout for That!

How to Create a Research Question

Watch this short video that demonstrates how to create your research question.

Narrow or Broad

As you begin searching and collecting information, you need to be sure your topic can be researched and that you will find adequate materials on your topic. You may find that there is often too much information for your topic, or too little so you may need to adjust your research strategy

What should you do if:

1.) Your topic is too broad. Find a way to limit the depth or scope of your search. Narrow or restrict the topic to something, such as a certain aspect of a subject or issue, you can deal with that will not be so overwhelming as you are searching for information.

2.) Your topic is too narrow. Find a way to expand your topic to include a wider range of information that can be retrieved through your research.

The encyclopedias and other reference material articles are excellent sources for a quick summary of basic ideas and concepts on a given subject. Often, this summary is an indication of how popular or how well researched this topic is.

Click here to see Is the Question are Too Broad or Too Narrow?