1. Choose a topic. (Sometimes your professor will choose for you.)
2. Formulate a question about your topic that your research will try to answer. (It's easier to sort through resources if you're looking for stuff that will help you answer a question.)
3. Pick out keywords from your question and find synonyms for those keywords. (Use the Search Strategy Builder below to help you!)
4. Combine your keywords and synonyms in a search string that databases and search engines can understand. (This means using Boolean operators [AND, OR, NOT], putting phrases in quotes, grouping ORs into parentheses... again, the Search Strategy Builder can help you!)
The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.
As you conduct your research, you may realize that the question you're asking is misguided, not very interesting, or impossible to answer. What's a student to do??
Change your research question!
Revising your research question based on knowledge gained from research is all part of the process. You may need to inform your professor of this development, but don't be afraid to change course.