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College Success Studies 225 (Wrenn): Identify Keywords

Identify Keywords

Before you begin searching for information, you must identify keywords related to your topic. Find keywords:

  • in encyclopedias (either print or Credo Reference) used in background research
  • in bibliographies found at the end of books and articles
  • in a thesaurus
  • in Wikipedia
  • by asking a librarian

Image source:  Evan-Amos.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.

Grateful thanks to Donna Miller, librarian at Lebanon Valley College, for the reuse of some material on this page from her How to Write a Research Paper libguide.


Narrow Your Topic

Be prepared to be flexible with your research question or thesis.

If you find too much information, your topic/thesis may be too broad.  You will need to narrow or focus it.


Narrow Your Topic


Progressive Era, Civil War, Iron Age, Cold War, Victorian Era, 1920's,18th century





Europe, Middle East, U.S., Denver, New York, urban, rural, eastern, western




Age, race, gender, nationality, ethnic group, occupation, species
Event or Aspect


Focus on an event within your topic: for human cloning, investigate government regulation of cloning.  Or consider a particular aspect: historical, sociological, psychological.


Person or Group


Related to your topic:  college students, Democrats, Republicans, Elizabeth Warren.