Research Strategy

Six Top Tips For Successful Research Strategy

  1. Know your topic - check spelling, definition
  2. Identify main concepts - keywords, subjects
  3. Create search strategy - find synonyms, eliminate extra words, combine keywords with "and"
  4. Choose the appropriate resources
  5. Revamp your strategy after you see what kind of results your getting.
  6. The Crucial Difference Between Internet Searching using a search engine and using a subscription database of published articles. A web search will only reach 13% of the available electronic information. To reach the more scholarly, reliable 87% you need to use commercial databases such as EBSCOhost.

Key Points to Remember

  • Choose a topic that you are interested in.
  • It is reassuring to know that almost everyone will have to change and fine tune their topic during the research process.
  • Use library tools such as CQ Researcher and Encyclopedias to gain a foundation of knowledge and a baseline of understanding of the key issues for your possible topic. After all, once you attain an overview of aspects of a topic you might find you are interested in an area you previously had no knowledge of.

The Challenge of Picking a Topic

It usually makes sense to start with a broad or more general topic. It is human nature to be discouraged if you start with too narrow a topic.

Examples of Topics Broad to Narrow

  • Smoking
  • Smoking in America
  • Smoking by Age
  • Teenage
  • Underage
  • Smoking By Gender
  • Smoking Health Risk
  • Cancer
  • Types of Cancer Smoking Causes
  • Rights of Smokers vs. Rights of Smokers
  • Smoking Historically
  • Advertising
  • Role of the Government

But if you find way too many articles or books don’t feel overwhelmed. It is easy to narrow or broaden your search by using a keyword search or using a subject search.

Keyword searching involves using Boolean connectors such as

See Evaluating Sources.


Focus on learning the process of writing and researching instead of only the final product. See OCC Plagiarism Brochure (PDF).