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Plan II Thesis

Getting Started

Brainstorming Keywords

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:

   Services for college students with disabilities 

Key Concepts


college students


Related Keywords

assistive tech*

higher education



  • Try out 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: "students with disabilities"
  • Still too many results? Narrow using AND. Ex:  "students with disabilities" AND "assistive technology"
  • Too few results? Broaden using OR. Ex: "students with disabilities" AND (campus OR college OR university OR higher education)
  • Put parentheses around synonyms.
  • The asterisk finds multiple endings from a root word. Ex: wom* will bring back women, woman's, wombat, etc.

Using ASC as Keyword Generator


Using any EBSCO database's advanced search fields can be used as a makeshift keyword generator.

In this example, we will use the database, Academic Search Complete (ASC). After logging in you, you will see three empty search fields. To generate keywords, think of your first keyword concept. I am going to use Latino. The trick to generating the autofilled keywords is to type your keyword followed by or

For example, to generate the related keywords for Latino, type in -> Latino or 

This strategy can be useful if you are not finding enough results in your searches, you want to be comprehensive or the topic you are researching goes by many names depending on discipline, generation or viewpoint. 

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