Identify the Information Need
Asking what you don't know about a topic will help you decide what information you need to look for in your book and article search.
Using the example research question from Narrowing Your Topic, i need to ask myself:
What don't I know about how local customs impact regional dialects in the Tuvan language?
By asking myself this question, I discover that I need to find books and articles that answer the following questions:
- Where is the Tuvan language spoken?
- What cultural/ethnic group(s) speaks Tuvan?
- What are the regions with different dialects?
- What are these dialects?
- What are the local customs of these regions?
By asking questions about your own research topic you will:
- Identify potential elements of your argument;
- Identified which subjects you need to conduct research on in order to support your argument;
- Identified a robust collection of search terms to start your initial catalog and article database searches with.
Brainstorm Search Terms
Create a list of synonyms and related concepts
The English language has many words we can use to express the same thing. It is very common to conduct a search using one set of terms and a second search using related terms or synonyms and get equally good results. To expand your search results and ensure you retrieve all the books and articles most important to your research, first create a list of synonyms and related concepts.
- Cultural group = ethnic group
- Custom = tradition
- Language ~ spoken language ~ oral tradition(s) ~ linguistics
In asking what you don't know about your topic you've already identified a number of possible terms to use in your search for books, articles and sound recordings.