UCD Library : An Leabharlann, An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath

Define Your Information Need

To begin your assignment you need to be able to find useful and relevant information. Developing an effective search is an important part of this process. This page provides guidelines on getting started.

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Define your research topic

State your topic as a question

This is a good way to start your search. It helps you to clarify your thoughts and to define the topic, e.g. obesity and depression.

Examples of search questions:

How does obesity affect mental health?

Are obese teenagers depressed?

What are the connections between obesity and depression among teenagers?

Identify the main keywords or concepts

Once you have formulated your search question, identify the main concepts or keywords in the question. Do this by picking out the main terms - or subjects - used in your questions.

Draw up a list of synonyms or related terms. This will provide you with extra terms to use when searching for information. It may also suggest ways to broaden or narrow your topic.

Example 1

What are the connections between obesity and depression among teenagers?

Main concepts:

Broadening and narrowing your search 

Broaden and narrow your topic

Broaden your topic

If your topic is too narrow you may not find the information you need. Try broadening it.

Narrowing your search example 4 

Example 2

Narrowing your search example 5 

Hint: Once you have reformulated your question you need to re-do some steps, e.g. picking out keywords, synonyms etc.

Narrow your topic

Finding too much information may mean that you have to narrow your topic.

Narrowing your search example 1 

Re-word your topic with more specific terms:

Example 3

Narrowing your search example 2 

Example 4

Narrowing your search example 3 

Hint: Once you have reformulated your question you need to re-do some steps, e.g. picking out keywords, synonyms etc.

What you can do next...

Check out our new LibGuides by subject in the Arts and Social Sciences. If you need further help searching the Internet or online databases, please contact your College Liaison Librarian.