How do I find information (or books/articles/videos) on a specific topic?


To find information, first choose one of RDP Library’s Subject Guides

  • If you are looking for scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, use OneSearch or the databases listed in the guide's Key Resources box. 
  • If you are looking for books, use OneSearch or the NEOS Catalogue, listed in the guide's Search the Library Collection box.

Know What Types of Sources You Need, and How Many

Before you start your research, review your assignment to clarify:

  • How many sources do you need?
  • Do you need books? Articles? Videos? Can you use websites?
  • Do your sources need to be scholarly or peer-reviewed?

Choose Keywords

Your chances of finding relevant information can be improved by brainstorming and selecting good search terms or keywords. Keywords:

  • are typically nouns
  • describe the main points of your topic

Take a look at your research question (or thesis statement) and note the main terms.

Example: "What is the effect of sleep deprivation on the grades of post-secondary students?"
(words highlighted in green are the main terms)

Then, think of synonyms or related words:

  • Sleep deprivation: sleep disturbance, sleep difficulty, sleep loss, insomnia
  • Grades: academic achievement, academic performance
  • Post-secondary students: college students, university students

Be sure to consider:

  • alternate spellings
  • abbreviations
  • plurals
  • synonyms
  • alternate scientific or technical terms

As you research your topic, make a note of any additional relevant search terms that you come across.

How to Narrow or Focus Your Topic

If you start with a very broad topic, for example, marketing, you will probably find there is way too much information on this subject.

To make the topic more manageable, you can narrow it. Think of some aspect of the general subject of marketing that interests you, for example:

  • Corporate sponsorship in colleges
  • Greenwashing
  • Marketing to children

Let's say that you are interested in marketing to children; you could further narrow that topic by choosing a sub-topic such as:

  • a specific product
    • e.g. marketing fast food to children
  • a location 
    • e.g. marketing to children in Canada
  • a specific medium 
    • e.g. marketing to children on television
  • a population 
    • e.g. marketing to boys, or marketing to girls

With these tips, your search results should be more relevant.

  • Last Updated Apr 19, 2022
  • Views 116
  • Answered By RDP Library

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