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AMS 311S: Technology, Science, and Pop Culture / Schneider

Course guide for students in the AMS 311S: Technology, Science, and Pop Culture course

Developing Keywords

Preparing to Search

Sometimes, you find exactly what you need with your first search. But it often doesn't work out that way! Try this step-by-step brainstorm before you search the library catalog or databases. 

1. Save time, prepare to research!

  • Break your research question into key concepts (you'll connect these in your paper to make an original argument)
  • For each of these concepts, brainstorm multiple keywords

Sample Topic:

 How has technology affected Indigenous communities in the Americas? How have Indigenous communities used technologies to resist colonialism? 

Key Concepts


Indigenous communities


Related Keywords

surveillance, mapping, data, "big data", countermapping, radical cartography

Native American, Indigenous women, MMIW, Standing Rock, Dakota pipeline 

imperialism, post colonial*, empire, decoloni*, (police or government or state)

  • Try this keyword tool to brainstorm online and send the results to yourself.

2. Combine keywords using AND and OR:

  • Too many results? Try using quotation marks around an exact phrase. Ex: "body positivity"
  • Still too many results? Narrow using AND. Ex: Black women AND "body positivity"
  • Too few results? Broaden using OR. Ex: "body positivity" OR "fat acceptance"
  • Put parentheses around synonyms. 
  • The asterisk finds multiple endings from a root word. Ex: wom* will bring back women, woman's, wombat, etc.

3. Brush up on the search tools available:

Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings are standardized terms or phrases that organize resources by topic. Like hashtags, they make it easier to find relevant resources in libraries or databases based on specific topics or themes you're exploring.

Click these examples below to see resources related to:

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