Construct a Search Strategy and Find Background Information

Construct Your Online Search Strategy

Two easy Step to Construct Your Online Search Strategy

1. Identify the keywords or phrases from your thesis statement to use as your search terms.

  1. "alternative fuels"
  2. "automobiles"

2. Make a list of synonyms (words with similar meanings) for each keyword to arm yourself with a variety of search terms. Keep in mind that different authors use different words to describe the same concepts.

Keywords Synonyms
1. Alternative fuels Biofuels
  Renewable energy
  Hydrogen fuel cells
2. Automobiles Cars
  Motor vehicles

Find Background Information on your Research Topic

Reference tools like encyclopedias or dictionaries provide background information on a topic as well as key dates and facts. These types of resources can be found on the east side of the library building, in GALILEO, and on the Internet. Use the chart below to determine which types of resources you need.

Information Needed Type of Resources Example
Amount or Number Statistical yearbook or almanac World Almanacs
List of sources Bibliography MLA International Bibliography
Background info Encyclopedia New Georgia Encyclopedia
Biographical info Biographical reference Literary Reference Center
Names, addresses,
phone numbers
for organizations
Directory Georgia Official and
Statistical Register
Definition Dictionary Oxford English Dictionary
Visual representations Pictures Images (EBSCOhost)
Audiovisual Videos Films on Demand
Locations, Directions Map Georgia's Aerial Photographs

Subject specific encyclopedias and handbooks focus on a specific discipline and may include descriptive entries on a variety of topics related to a subject. Some of these sources may include references or selective bibliographies which may lead you to more useful information on your research topic. To find a subject specific reference book in the SGSC Libraries online catalog, type in your keyword search term and either the word "encyclopedia" or "handbook." For example: As shown by the following screen shots, the search terms, "sports" and "encyclopedia", will retrieve the record for the Encyclopedia of Sports.

Screen shot of GIL-Find search results for sports and encyclopedia

Another helpful tool is the LibGuides list on the library's website, which provides recommended library and Internet resources for many research topics. In order to find reference resources in GALILEO, click on the Browse by Type links to access dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference resources.

Screen shot of GALILEO browse by type to access dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc

REMEMBER: Wikipedia can be edited by anyone (including people who may be uninformed or joking) so, make sure you verify any information you obtain from Wikipedia. Also remember that some instructors will not allow students to use Wikipedia for research.