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The Research Process

New to college research? This guide gives you an overview of how to get started.

Identify Concepts & Keywords

Break your topic down into its basic parts...

human figure drawing a planIdentify the Main Concepts

Write your research question down. Identify the concepts in that question.

Example: How does aging affect memory loss?

The main ideas (or concepts) in this question are: aging and memory loss

write iconMake a List of Keywords

For each concept, make a list of keywords related to it. Use synonyms, and go back to your background research to find academic vocabulary and terms.  

Examples: aging, elderly, seniors, aged, older people, senescent, geriatric, etc.


Video: Turn your Research Question into a Search Strategy

This video shows you how to turn your research question into a search strategy. It was created by librarians at Central Carolina Community College, so they will reference resources at their library. However, the important part is at the beginning where they show you how to create search phrases.

Library Lingo

open book icon
An idea or theme.

Keyword: A word used to search for information in a search engine or library resource. A good keyword will relate to one of the main concepts of your research question. Using a keyword in a search will bring up articles that use that word in a significant or important way.

Synonym: A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase.


Human figure with question mark


Have any questions?  Ask a librarian!



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