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How to Start the Research Process

A guide for starting the research paper and project process.


Identify the main concepts or keywords

By creating a list of keywords, you will be able to build better and more efficient searches. Good keywords will return a smaller of number results that are more relevant.

Steps to Choosing Keywords

1. Note single words or short phrases.

  • You will not use complete sentences to search.
  • Leave out minor words such as  ("a," "an," or "the") and prepositions or verb phrases ("on," "in," or "going to").
  • Use nouns (person, place, or thing) as keywords.
  • Avoid verbs (action words) and adjectives (descriptive words).

2. Play with synonyms

For example, start with the word "trash," then try using the words "garbage" or “waste.”

3. Think of related terms to describe your topic.

For example, related terms to "pollution" are "acid rain," "global warming," or "refuse water." The related terms may be more specific or less specific than your original term.