Research Mini-Tutorial

At a Glance: 1. Select & Focus | 2. Write Your Question/Statement | 3. Identify Keywords
4. Identify Related Keywords | 5. Build Your Search Statement | Research Worksheet


Before you begin your research, it is important to plan your research strategy.

A strategy is essential for searching electronically in:

Here are the steps in your research strategy:

  1. Select your subject area and then focus your topic.
  2. Write your research question or statement.
  3. Identify keywords.
  4. Identify related keywords.
  5. Build your search statement.

1. Select a Subject Area & Then Focus ...

A good way to start your research is by selecting a broad subject area.
For example: health

Once you have decided on a subject area, choose a more focused topic within the subject area.

Broad subject area
Topic within that subject area

2. Write a Research Question or Statement

After you have focused your topic, write the topic:

Question How can naturopathy be used to treat disease?


Statement Recent research suggests that naturopathy can be used to treat disease.

Writing a research statement or question forces you to be clear about the kind of information you are looking for!

3. Identify Keywords

Next, identify keywords in your research question or statement. Keywords describe the important ideas or concepts for your topic.

For example in our research question:

How can naturopathy be used to treat disease?

The keywords are:

You need keywords to search electronically:

4. Identify Related Keywords

Once you have chosen the main keywords, make a list of related keywords. This will give you extra keywords to use for searching.

Use these related keywords when:

The keywords from our sample question were:
Related keywords might include:
natural medicine
alternative medicine
holistic medicine

5. Build Your Search Statement

Combine keywords or keyword phrases to build a search statement.
naturopathy and disease

naturopathy disease

  • When you are searching on the Internet, check searching rules for the search engine you are using. Some search engines require that you combine terms with a + sign. 
naturopathy +disease

Use quotation marks around phrases:

Search statement for a research database: "alternative medicine" and disease

Search statement for a Quick Search on the Library Catalogue: "alternative medicine" disease

Click here for a printable research worksheet

For more information about doing research go to Starting My Research.