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Finding Relevant Resources

1. Use reference sources to explore your topic or subject interest

Find encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries on the library's website or through the relevant research or course guides.


  • Identify and make a note of terms and concepts relevant to your topic 

  • Identify scholars and individuals important to your subject area

  • Gather background information on your topic

2. Explore your topic, brainstorm and create a mind map


Finch, Holly. Fake News Research.

3.  Compile a list of keywords and phrases based on your preliminary research and mind map

  • Include synonyms and variant spellings 

  • Include related terms or concepts based on your preliminary research

  • Compile broad and narrow search term strings

Simple vs. Complex

Too simple: How are doctors addressing diabetes in the U.S.?

Appropriately complex: What are common traits of those suffering from diabetes in America, and how can these commonalities be used to aid the medical community in prevention of the disease?


Unclear: Why are social networking sites harmful?

Clear: How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on social networking sites like Facebook?


Unfocused: What is the effect on the environment from global warming?

Focused: How is glacial melting affecting penguins in Antarctica?

From Topic to Research question - from Indiana University Bloomington Libraries


Is it Original?


  • Has someone already answered your research question?


Test the "so what?" factor


  • Is it relevant?
  • Is the answer obvious?
  • Why would your audience be interested?


Is it a feasible topic to explore?


  • Is there enough information on the topic?
  • Is there enough time to cover the information required to answer your research question?
  • Are the resources required available to you?


There are a number of ways to find resources: from a single platform, according to a subject area or specifically by the title of a database or journal