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The Research Hub

For current AES and FYS Courses and a great starting point for anyone's research.

Identifying Concepts and Keywords

So, what makes for a "good" topic?

  • Something that interests you! You'll enjoy researching it and write a paper that's meaningful to you.
  • It meets the requirements of your assignment.
  • It’s broad enough to give you several search options.
  • It’s focused enough that you’re not overwhelmed with information.

Consult your professor or a librarian to help you narrow your ideas down to a manageable topic for your paper or project.

A keyword search scans all words in a record, including the title, abstract, and author. Refer to your class notes and course materials to get ideas for search terms.

Tip: A good research topic usually contains 2-3 concepts. It is often in the form of a research question or statement. Break your topic into individual keywords by pulling out the words that indicate the main concepts of your topic.


A Research question: What motivates adult learners taking online courses?

  • Pick out Keywords: motivates, adult learners, online courses. (Words such as "what" and "taking" do not relate to the core concepts of the research question and are not effective keywords.)
  • Brainstorm alternative keywords that an author might have used. This includes different word forms and similar terms:   
  motivates   adult learners   online courses
  motivation   adult student   distance education
  motivating  non-traditional   web-based course