First things first: get to know your topic! OR start checking out some topics while you decide which sounds most interesting.
Follow the links below to the topic overview articles in Opposing Viewpoints and CQ Researcher (where available). These overview articles won't be part of your final citations since they're meant to be just brief introductions.
Click the images to view full-size, or download the attached PowerPoint file to read in the original format.
Now, onto to developing your search strategy! It's time to move into the real research!
For each idea you need to research, brainstorm (or jot down as you do your exploratory research) synonyms or close-related terms for each keyword.
You're effectively circling around the main argument you want to present. In other words: describe your argument without saying what your argument is. It's kind of like a quilt -- you're going to take snippets from all over the place and stitch them together into a coherent whole. (If you weren't doing that, it wouldn't be a quilt, we'd just say it was a regular blanket.)
If my argument (based on the example mind map on the previous tab) is going to be that vaccination should be mandatory with no religious exemptions...
|Bigger ideas:||public health||1st amendment, religious freedom|
|Main idea:||vaccination||mandatory||religious exemption|
|Narrower or synonymous ideas:||immunization||requir* = required, requirement||which religions claim and why?|
|childhood vaccines||herd immunity||exceptions, accommodations|
|herd immunity||how many claim who aren't religious?|
I'm not likely to find articles that I can use that are making my argument exactly for me. This is again where mind-mapping comes in handy! What do I think my supporting evidence will be?
Multidisciplinary databases like JSTOR and Academic Search Complete and Opposing Viewpoints are easy choices. In my vaccine example, there's a health & medicine component, clearly, as well as legal components (as I'm arguing for a change in the law and examining legal precedent). There's socio-cultural aspects, too, so maybe I'd need to check some social science databases, as well.