Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Pacific Lutheran University

Inquiry. Service. Leadership. Care.

Getting Started with Research

Whether this is your first time doing research, you need a quick refresher, or you want to improve your own research practices, this guide is design to assist you.

Search Strategies

Unlike searching in Google, searching in library databases relies heavily on the use of "keywords" - the words you enter into a search box. Since one author may use different words than another to discuss the same topic or idea, you will want to brainstorm synonyms for important words, and conduct multiple searches.

Keep in mind that the words you use will influence the search results. For example, each of the following searches will yield different results, even though they are about the same topic:

When exploring resources, then, trying different phrases can help you see different perspectives on the same topic. Additionally, conducting multiple searches with synonyms can help you find additional sources that one search alone might not reveal. For example, with a research question regarding trade laws, you might want to try words like regulations, statutes, or legislation. You can then conduct multiple searches, such as:

Using keywords in this manner will help you explore a wide variety of sources related to your topic.

Questions to Consider

Q: For your topic, what words or phrases might represent different viewpoints (for example, "tariffs" and "subsidies")?