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Preparing to Search

Once you have selected a topic and reviewed general resources, you must decide what exactly interests you most about your topic.  For example, you may have chosen globalization as a topic, but when you run a search for globalization in the Library databases, you get over 12,000 results! In a situation like this you will need to narrow your search. What about globalization interests you? Try adding some keywords to globalization to come up with a smaller, more manageable, set of search results. You may also find that your research topic is much too narrow, or focused. Trying to look for articles about the effects of globalization on outsourced employees living in Hyderabad, India, will more than likely return zero results. In this situation you need to broaden your topic by taking away some keywords or being less specific about your research topic.

globalization = too broad
globalization on outsourced employees living in Hyderabad, India = too narrow
globalization on outsourced employees = manageable topic

As mentioned above, it’s important to choose a topic that is not too narrow or too broad. It is also helpful to select a topic where you can effectively explore relationships, i.e., globalization and human rights. Try forming your keywords into a question. Using the example of globalization and human rights, you may come up with the following: Is there a relationship between globalization and the human rights of workers from local host countries? By posing your research topic as a question, the resources you will need become clear.

keywords = globalization, human rights, outsourced employees
research question = Is there a relationship between globalization and the human rights of workers from local host countries?

As you continue searching, refine your search by adding or combining different key words that further explore your topic. You may find you need to modify your question. Carefully read and evaluate scholarly research articles to determine their suitability and validity. Use information from selected articles to form a response to your question. Your conclusions can then serve as your hypothesis/thesis statement that will direct your paper. Using the above example, we might end up with the following hypothesis: If human rights are negatively affected by globalization, then a universal code of human rights may positively affect the rights of workers in local host countries.

Understanding how to narrow or broaden your topic as well as learning how to turn your topic from a research question into a hypothesis statement can be helpful. It’s not only important to recognize when these steps need to occur, but it’s important to know what to do to carry out these steps. Once you have developed a hypothesis/thesis statement, you will want to begin thinking about the type of information you need and the best approach to finding it. The following pages will describe techniques for searching in the Library's databases.

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