When we talk about "brainstorming" for research, one important part is getting from our question (usually in normal, everyday language) to a a group of keywords or terms that scholars or experts use when talking about that question. We can use the Articles & Books tab on the library's homepage: www.library.rochester.edu to help us.
- take your question or topic and think about some other ways to describe it. If you're interested in free will, you might also be interested in choices, responsibility, freedom, or consciousness. You know what you're most interested in, so take a minute or two to come up with related terms.
- at the Articles & Books search, put a few of those keywords in - more than one, and less than five. If there's a group that you're particularly thinking of: robots, dogs, babies, ghosts....put that in too.
- remember, we're not looking for the perfect article on our topic yet - we're aiming for the terms that will give us a lot of good results. So, don't open up each article and start reading. Instead, look at some of the terms that are in the first few results - how do they look? Look at the limiters on the left-side column. Do you see a discipline or a subject term that seems relevant? Click on it to begin narrowing your search.
- if you begin seeing some expert terminology, you can change your search by deleting and adding terms in the search box. If there's a two-word phrase, be sure to put it in quotes, like "free will" and your search results will keep those terms together.
- clicking the Scholarly and Peer Reviewed limiter will exclude books, but that can help you focus your search for terms.
- clicking on Preview under an article title will show you the abstract (if available) and also give you a list of subject terms. If one looks good, add it to the search box at the top.
- this process sometimes takes a couple of tries, but you'll end up focusing your search terms to get more of what you want. And, if you need to go back and search later, or in a subject specific database, you'll have a lot of your expert terms in hand!