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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 

Topic & Keywords

First, identify the key terms in your research topic or question: Is restorative justice an effective method for rehabilitation?

Then, brainstorm synonyms for the keywords or phrases that can be used in a search engine:

"restorative justice" rehabilitat*
"restorative practices" reconciliation

Only use words that add value to the search (don't type in full phrases or questions that include words like "are" or "the") Search tips

  • “Truncating” words can help expand your search. Placing an asterisk at the end of the root of the word:  crim* will find crime + criminal + criminology + any plural forms
  • Multi-word concepts, such as “criminal justice system”, need quotation marks to search the words as one phrase
  • You can use three words called Boolean Operators to improve your search: AND, OR, NOT

Different search engines have different rules for how operators are used in their searches. The tips here work in OCtopus and some other database's search engines. Check the help section of the database for more information. Here are the search tips for QuickLaw.

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