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This guide lists key sources of information for English Language and Literature that are available for Kwantlen users. Click on the tabs for different types of sources and useful research tips.

Start your research

Research Process flow chart - shows a diagram going from reference material to newspapers to books and then to academic articles

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Take time to think about your topic. You will need to break your topic down into keywords to search for resources.

  • Analyze your topic for key concepts to use as search terms (keywords).
  • Identify synonyms for your terms, related terms and spelling variations (e.g. marihuana, marijuana, cannabis )
  • Use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to combine your keywords and to retrieve more relevant enhance your search strategy
  • Focus on key concepts. Don't do a search using a question or a phrase. 

Tutorial:  Keywords and Subject Heading Search - on Prezi  

Pulling keywords from research questions or thesis statements:

Example: The impact of sea level rise due to climate change on human rights of people living in coastal areas in Asia

Your turn:  Labeling policy for genetically modified foods in Canada should be mandatory.  Which terms are key concepts, and which one should not be used when searching in databases?

MLA citation:
Brinkerhoff, Celia. "Activity: Focus on the Keywords of a Research Question." Doing Research: A Student's Guide to Finding and Using the Best Sources, KPU Library, 2019,
(Used under CC-BY 4.0 International licence.)

When getting started with your research, it is a good idea to get a general overview of a topic or gather background information. Background information may include facts, historical figures, timelines, definitions, origins, theories, events, and more.