You've got a paper due. Your instructor has given you a general topic. Now, what? Where do you start? First, you need to narrow down that broad topic to a more manageable one. See the Focusing Your Topic graphic below for tips on how to narrow down.
To search for supporting sources (books, DVDs, articles, etc.) you will need to identify your keywords and concepts. Use the CONCEPTualize Your Topic graphic below to brainstorm keyword concepts, find synonyms/related terms and establish potential word combinations for the next step: Boolean searching.
Once you have narrowed down a broad topic to a more focused topic and identified keywords in your research question, it's time to start searching. Use combinations of keywords--mix and match--within individual databases to find relevant sources. A good place to begin is the Gale Virtual Reference Library. As you find reference articles on your topic, jot down more keywords and related subjects found in those articles to further your searching. Don't give up easily! If one combination of words brings few results, try another combination.
AND searches for multiple keywords within an article.
OR searches for either one word OR the other.
NOT instructs the database to ignore results with keywords you do NOT want.