If you've got your research question, you'll need keywords or search terms to search in the library's resources. Unlike google, library databases prefer simple terms, not the whole question typed out. So from our previous page on Brainstorming we had super general topics like:
Through the mind mapping exercise, we can get a narrower research question from each of these. For instance:
You'll notice that common words like "how," "because," and "a" are not keywords. These words do not make great search terms because they appear in almost every book and every article. To generate helpful keywords you want to identify the essential terms of your research question.
When coming up with keywords it is important to remember that the word you use for something may not be the same word someone else uses. Some people say "mini golf" and some people say "putt putt." Some people say "movie" and some people say "film." In Psychology they might say "mental health" but in Sociology they might say "well being." You want to find as many good sources as possible, so you need to think about, not only the words you use, but the words others might use as well.
There are specific ways to combine search terms when looking for resources in library databases. You can combine terms using AND, OR, NOT. These three words are called Boolean Operators.
Image from Albion College library.