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Research as a Conversation: Knowing Their Words

Know Their Words

Knowing the words that scholars and students use can help you:

  • Find sources that contain what they say about your topic
  • Understand what they are discussing

1.  Wrong search words can bring...

  • Too much information
  • Little or no information
  • Irrelevant information


2.  Subject terms can help you find what scholars
     and students say - quickly!
  • What is a subject term?
              Official word or phrase used by scholars in their field


  • Where can I find subject terms?
         Thesauri (Example: Roget's II: The New Thesaurus)
         Databases (Example: Academic Search Complete)
         Literature on a subject (look in an encyclopedia)
         Brainstorm by yourself or with others

Think Hierarchically

Think Hierarchically

Can't find anything Scholars say on your Topic? 

          1. Go up the hierarchy to find more specific words.

          2. Go down the hierarchy to find broader words.

          3. Go to the right or left on the hierarchy to find related words.

                                                Burr oak trees in Ohio

       Burr oak trees

                                       Oak trees
      Trees                      Flowers
    Think of a tree