6.3 Expanding Your Keyword List & Refining Topic Focus

Your database search results should give you a much more in-depth understanding of your research topic so you can begin to establish your own thoughts and opinions based on what you learned so far. This is the beginning of your thesis statement development. For example, through my research I learned that one way to increase voter turnout is through ride sharing to polling locations (potential solution). If I want this to be part of my thesis, I should include these keywords. This will help me to find information that talks specifically about this aspect.

Some new search statements would now look like this:

  • “ride share” AND “voter turnout” AND “underserved communities”
  • transportation AND “voter turnout” AND “underserved communities”
Note: If you find that your results include information about other countries, you can add the phrase “United States” to your search statement.  However, do not discount international sources or information. They could provide insight and valuable ideas.

Next Steps: Continue searching the databases, reading articles, refining keywords and search statements as needed, and keeping track of your research.

Key Takeaway

In this chapter, the emphasis was on utilizing research skills and resources to help you build your knowledge and understanding of  topics across your academic courses and throughout your academic career.  Remember that each new piece of  information you gain, adds to your overall knowledge base.  Nurturing this base will support you as a student, a professional, and a lifelong learner.