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Major research projects are easier to tackle if you break them up into steps (like those suggested below) and give each step a mini deadline. This way, the big deadline doesn't creep up on you. Try an assignment calculator if you are having trouble setting your own deadlines:

The Research Process: Step 1 - Define your topic; Step 2 - Narrow the topic; Step 3 - Gather background information; Step 4 - Create a research question; Step 5 - Develop a working thesis statement; Step 6 - Find and evaluate information; Step 7 - Cite sources; Step 8 - Write the paper

Selecting and Using Keywords 

Search Strategies for astronomy: Step 1 – Identify keywords in your topic or question. For example if your question is “How do observations of atmospheric composition and surface materials help to determine whether a planet can support life?”, your keywords are “atmospheric composition”, “surface materials”, "planet" and “life”. Step 2 – brainstorm synonymous words and phrases that you can use for your search. A synonymous phrase for “atmospheric composition” could be “atmospheric gases” in this instance, and an alternative search term for “life” could be “living being*”. Step 3 – Type your keywords and phrases into the search bar in OCtopus, the library’s search engine. Here are some pro search tips: Put quotation marks around multi-word phrases, such as “atmospheric composition” so that the search engine looks for the words as a phrase instead of individually. Place an asterisk symbol at the end of a root word to expand your search results – planet* will find search results for planets and planetary as well. Use Boolean search words AND, OR and NOT. Use OR between synonymous keywords or phrases, such as rocky OR gassy. Use And between different keywords or phrases such as giant AND gassy. Use NOT to exclude keywords from your search that are not relevant to your topic, such as giant NOT gassy. Search Strategies for Astronomy by Okanagan College Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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