Research Skills Programme Literature search keyword grid by zhouwenjuan

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									                                                                                                          Research Skills Programme 

                                                Literature search keyword grid

STEP 1: TRANSLATING YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION INTO KEYWORDS (“AND” SEARCHING)

1. Think about the key concepts in your research question. What are the two or three most important ideas, entities or topics you want to examine?
Note them here:




2. Now think about the relationships between those key concepts. You might be looking at the effect of one entity or phenomenon on another. Are
you setting parameters to that relationship by looking at a particular date range, cultural or geographical area, or in the work of a particular author or
school? These are also key concepts.


3. You can express your research topic - your key concepts and the relationships between them - very simply, as:

 concept 1                                  AND        concept 2                                   AND         concept 3

Fill in your own key concepts:

                                            AND                                                    AND


‘Translating’ your research question into this keyword-relationship format means that you can run effective searches on large databases such as Scopus,
Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. You’ll find articles that contain all of these keywords.
STEP 2: THINKING ABOUT SYNONYMS (“OR” SEARCHING)

4. What if other people are calling your concepts something different? For example, if you search using the keyword ‘illness’ you’ll find plenty of material -
but you won’t find articles that use the word ‘sickness’ instead. Think about synonyms for your keywords - including variant spellings and older ways of
describing your topic that may not be in use today.

5. The relationship between synonyms is expressed using OR - like this:

    concept 1                                 OR        variant spelling                            OR        synonym

Fill in your first keyword and two synonyms or variant spellings:

                                              OR                                                   OR


Running a search like this on a database means you’ll find articles that contain any one of these keywords. This will be a much bigger result set than your
AND search! Can you see why?

STEP 3: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

6. Now come up with as many different ways as possible for expressing each of your keywords. You should end up with a grid that looks something
like this:

  concept 1                                   OR        variant spelling                           OR        synonym
AND
  concept 2                                   OR        variant spelling                           OR        synonym
AND
  concept 3                                   OR        variant spelling                           OR        synonym


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