Answered By: Dana Longley
Last Updated: May 01, 2020     Views: 142

The key to finding the relevant sources on any topic is identifying the best words that might be used by authors writing about the topic. Spend some time brainstorming what you know/think about this topic and any possible search words/terms, etc. related to it.

One way to begin this process is to ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. Who is involved in this? (i.e., demographics - groups of people and other subgroups and factors within this population (custodial parents or "parents with custodial responsibility") that researchers might study - example, urban vs rural, ethnicity, economic status (income), gender, etc.
  2. Where geographically are you focusing? E.g., United States, specific region within the US, other nations, comparing different regions or countries?
  3. When in time are you looking at this? Is there an historical context? In other words, are you looking at how this issue might have changed over time (e.g., has diversity in the workplace changed over time, and if so, how far back do you want to look?)
  4. What disciplinary lens(es) are you using (e.g., legal, psychological, historical, business, policy, sociological, etc.)  and related and subtopics (e.g., diversity policies, human resources, diversity as cultural issue, prejudice, cultural norms), might be of help to investigate?
  5. For any of the above are there possible synonyms? multiculturalism, equal opportunity, equal rights, cultural diversity, sexism, racism, ethnicity, 
  6. A good place to start is to find some good overview encyclopedia entries on the topic (this will get you a better handle on possible key words, names of relevant laws and policies and an historical overview of the concepts). Places to look: Gale Virtual Reference and Wikipedia

Once you do that, you can create some possible search strategies to get into the journal and book literature. View this brief video tutorial on creating effective searches.

We suggest starting your search in these two places:

I hope this information helps. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Interested in taking a hands-on workshop on how to do research effectively and efficiently, from the comfort of home?  If so, check out the online, live Library Workshops.

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