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CPHS_English 9 - Argumentative Essay: Information Seeking Strategies

Brainstorming for SEARCH terms.

Break Down Your Topic into Concepts

Databases have difficulty searching for sentences and plain language text. Search by using the most important terms in your topic. For instance, your topic or research topic may be "The complete legalization of marijuana would benefit society."  Many of the words in this sentence would confuse a database search, by ignoring articles, pronouns, prepositions, and other unimportant words, you will be left with the key words to use in your search. Begin by crossing out the unimportant words and focusing on the key concept terms:

"The complete legalization of marijuana would benefit society."

When searching for articles on this topic in a database, simply use the terms:

- legalization
- marijuana
- benefit (use quotation marks to search this as a phrase)

Brainstorm for Synonyms Related to Your Concepts

Now that you've broken down your research question into the specific concepts, think about all the other words an author might use to talk about these concepts.  In other words, find synonyms or related words for each concept term/phrase.  Hint: use a thesaurus if you get stuck. 

legalization       marijuana       benefits  
laws       drugs       good
legislation       pot     well-being
policies       grass     advantages
decriminalize       dope        pros

(This information is from :


Mining Bibliographies

Note that research is a multi-layerd process.

For instance, look at the website:


By clicking the "Resources" button, you will find an extensive list of everything from fact sheets to reports.