1. Describe your topic in one sentence, but be specific. (For example: "How and why do honey bees (scientific name Apis mellifera) dance?")
2. Circle the most important nouns and verbs in your topic statement. Don't circle the words and phrases found in many research questions, like "how," "why," "the effect of," or "the relationship between."
3. Mark your important nouns and verbs as ideas 1, 2, 3, and so-on. For instance, in my example I circled HONEY BEES and I'm labeling that idea #1, and I circled DANCE and I'm labeling that idea #2.
4. Put your ideas in a grid:
|Idea 1||Idea 2||Idea 3|
or alternate word
Search engines, like the Google search or ones in our library databases, use words to relate ideas and alternate terms together.
AND is used to connect different ideas.
OR is used to connect related words.
Parentheses ( ) are used to indicate which things to search first.
Here are some ways I can type my search into a search engine. If I type:
honeybee AND dancing
This search will get some of the documents I want, but not all of them. Here's how to get more of the documents I want:
(honeybee OR honey bee OR apis mellifera) AND (dance OR dances OR dancing)
Do you see how OR separates different words for the same thing, and AND separates ideas?
In many databases there is a symbol I can use to search for words that start in the same way:
(honeybee OR honey bee OR apis mellifera) AND (danc*)
Experiment and see what works for your topic!