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English for Adult Upgrading

This is the latest version of the ENGLISH GUIDE for Adult Upgrading courses

The Research Process

Planning Your Research

Planning Your Research




How did Alice Walker's childhood influence her writing?


Identify keywords from your topic and start your search. You can narrow down any topic by combining the keywords you have identified in your question.           "Alice Walker"    AND   childhood    AND   writing


To come up with other keywords to help narrow or expand or refocus your search:

  • Brainstorm alternate words or synonyms
  • Looks for alternate or related keywords or synonyms or subject headings in applicable results.

Your search results will typically have subject headings (similar to tags), author-selected keywords, and keywords in the abstract of the article that will help identify synonyms and expand your keyword bank.

Keyword concept 1
"Alice Walker"


Keyword concept 2


Keyword concept 3
"the colour purple"

COMBINING KEYWORDS Combine your keywords using the Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT.

AND searches for resources that contain both of your keywords.

"alice walker" AND "childhood"

OR searches for resources with either or both of your keywords. 

"childhood" OR "youth"

NOT searches for results with only your first keyword and hides results containing your second keyword.

"writing" NOT "film"


Use quotation marks to search a TWO WORD concept such as:
“Alice Walker” ; “the colour purple”
Use an * at the root of a word to find alternate forms of the word:
Child* finds child, childhood, children, etc.


Keep a Research Journal

Keep a research journal
Make a note of:
● keywords & subject headings
● key databases & key sources
● experts in the field
● new insights, new ideas &
   new knowledge    


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