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Assignment | PSYC 2301 Research Paper (Stalnaker): Develop Your Search Terms

PSYC 2301 | Prof. N. Stalnaker (Fall 2023)

Turning a Topic into a Search: Phase 2

Develop Your Search

Once you know your topic and your research question, you need to figure out how you're going to find more in-depth information.

First, pick out the key terms from your research question: 

What effects on the education system does racial discrimination have?

Next, you'll want to brainstorm some related and alternate terms for these keywords to give you some variability in your search strategies.

 Effects Education Racial (Race) Discrimination
Impact Public schools Ethnicity Prejudice
Results Charter schools Specific examples: black, Hispanic, etc Bias
Graduation rates K-12/primary   Advantages/
Completion rates Secondary school   Inequity, inequality
Retention rates School funding   Affirmative action
Education gap Socioeconomic clusters in school zoning    
  high school    


Notice that I've struck out a couple terms...we don't want to accidentally broaden our search or our research question. Charter schools and college (secondary education) are too different from K-12 public schools, so I don't want to mix them. In fact, there's a big difference between elementary (the "K" end) and high schools (the "-12" end)...I'd want to see what I can easily find research for and really focus in on one or the other.

Now, when you take advantage of the advanced search tool in the databases, you'll be armed with a variety of search terms that relate to your topic!

You can search for the obvious, effects AND education AND race AND discrimination ... but you can also mix it up:

  • (effect OR impact) AND rac* (bias OR discrimination) AND public schools
  • race AND student retention AND university
  • zoning AND public school AND race


What's This For, Anyway?

This grab-bag of words will fuel your advanced search.