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High School Guest User Guide to Library Resources

Step 1: Identify Your Research Question

Defining what exactly you want to research is the first step. If you are having trouble identifying possible research topics try using Points of View Reference or background information database.

Once you have identified a possible topic you will want to narrow it down.

For example, if you are interested in animal rights you might define your research question as:

Is animal experimentation ethical?

Step 2:  Breaking Down Your Topic

To break down your topic you will need to identify the main ideas or concepts in your research question. These concepts will become the keywords you use in your research.  

Is animal experimentation ethical?

Key Concepts:




Step 3:  Identify Synonyms or Similar Words

Animal Experimentation Ethical
In Vivo Testing Ethics
Chimpanzee Research Welfare
Primate   Moral
Mice   Rights


Boolean Searching

Boolean searching allows you to combine words and phrases when searching in the library's catalog or databases, as well as on the Web. The Boolean searching consists of three operators:
Each operator can be visually described by using Venn diagrams, as shown below.
Searching for Apples AND Oranges will return results that include both terms and exclude any that include one or neither.


Searching for Apples OR Oranges will return results that include one or both terms


Searching for Apples NOT Oranges will return results that exclude the second term