Once you have selected a topic, you need to develop a set of keywords—words that describe the topic or aspects of the topic. Later, you will use these keywords to find information on your topic.
Example: You have chosen to write a paper on "college students' alcohol use and grade-point averages."
Start by stating your topic as a question: Is there relationship between college students' alcohol use and grade-point averages?
What are the main concepts in your question?
- grade-point average
- college students
Are there other words for these concepts?
- alcohol: alcoholism, drinking, substance abuse, binge drinking
- grade-point average: grades, achievement, GPA, graduation, test scores
- college students: university, higher education, undergraduates, freshmen
These words are your keywords, which you will use to test the viability of your topic and to search for information.
Note: You will want to keep a running list of your keywords and check them off as you try them. That way, you will not waste time searching for the same keywords twice.