The first step in creating an efficient search is to identify the research topic.
If you have an assignment topic you can analyse this to identify the Key Terms.
If you don't have a topic, carefully consider what it is you are trying to research. Write this down in the form of a question, being as precise as you can.
What caused the fall of the Roman Empire?
is not nearly as useful a starting point as
What role did the Germanic Magister militum play in the collapse of the Western Roman Empire after the year 359?
Once you have a clearly stated topic you need to analyse it looking for key terms.
Apart from prepositions and conjunctions the topic will include four types of words.
These tell you what you have to do. They help to decide the style, emphasis and structure of your work. Task words are not usually included in a search.
These tell you what the main focus of the topic is. They are usually nouns or noun phrases. Content words are the key terms.
These restrict the topic to a limited part of the field. They will vary according to your area of study but might include phrases like:
Limiting words are also key terms.
Like limiting words these are used to restrict a topic. However they are used differently when Boolean logic is applied.
Critically and evaluate are the task words. These words give the message that you are being asked to examine the case for and against the topic.
The focus of your topic is an examination of whether the message using drugs and driving do not mix is being heeded.
Your work will be limited to a discussion of adolescents in Western Australia.
You will not consider how well it is understood that alcohol and driving do not mix.