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Research Help

The following steps outline an effective research strategy needed to complete an essay, class presentation, or a term paper in most courses at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Planning 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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Find definitions for unfamiliar terms in:


Browse topics and find background information using:

Find info on current or controversial topics using:

Browse our Subject Guides to find specific search tips and recommended sources for your course assignment.

Online Tutorials

Take a few minutes 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 ), after you have identified the key concepts. Don't do a search using a question or a phrase. Eg. Effects of global warming on rising sea levels
  • Use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to combine your keywords and to retrieve more relevant enhance your search strategy. Try this Boolean exercise.

Keywords - slides and a quiz:

Example: "Does using cell phones affect driving behaviour?"

  • Key concepts: cell phones and driving

Remember to use Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to combine your keywords or synonyms and related terms to retrieve more relevant results.

  • "cell phones" OR "cellular phones" OR "mobile devices" OR texting
  • driving OR traffic OR automobiles OR accidents
  • "cell phones" AND accidents NOT "road rage"

To find background information, overview or context for your topics, use encyclopedias, reference databases, and books. After you identify your research topic and some keywords that describe it, find and read articles in subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. These articles will help you understand the context (historical, cultural, disciplinary) of your topic.

Find encyclopedias:

Find overview essays:

Find books:

  • Library Catalogue - search for books and media. Excellent overview books: Opposing Viewpoints book series covers current topics.
  • Summon - search entire Library collection (books, media, journal and newspaper articles, book reviews, etc.)

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