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RDG 100 - Critical Thinking Analysis

2. Search Tips

Narrow SignOnce you've done some initial background reading, it's time to narrow down your topic to what you really want to focus on. Having a narrowed down topic will help you come up with keywords for your search.  Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read thus far.

Ask yourself:

What aspect of the topic do I want to focus on?

What interests me about the topic?

What do I want to write about?

As you start to narrow this down into a topic/thesis, you'll want to continue to look for more sources. As you research, you might tweak or adjust your topic/thesis.  In order to help you find more related sources about your topic, you'll want to identify keywords to help you search.


As you think about what concepts you want to research, think about what particular words might be found in a good article about that topic.  Below are some ideas for keywords you could use to search each of the topics.

You might want to combine some of your keywords using the Boolean Operator AND. For example, a search for "alternative medicine" AND impact will find articles about the different impacts of alternative medicine.

Modern Medicine
Government and Politics
Psychological Disorders
  • "modern medicine"
  • "alternative medicine"
  • "holistic medicine"


  • impact
  • benefits
  • race
  • gender
  • sexuality


  • stereotypes
  • portrayal
  • "religious freedom"
  • "freedom of speech"
  • "educational freedom"
  • parenting
  • choice


  • freedom
  • government
  • politics


  • society
  • treatment
  • addiction
  • "video game addiction"
  • "plastic surgery addiction"
  • "cellphone addiction"


  • "mental health"
  • "mental disorder"
  • "psychological disorder"


  • treatment
  • perception
  • religion
  • "religious groups"
  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Islam 


  • purpose
  • society


Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search.  Search the databases with the keywords you selected to find relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance coming up with keywords or looking for sources.