Develop a research paper focusing on issues of civil rights and Black power.
One of the more important processes in conducting research is designing a search strategy. You should use your search strategy when using library search tools/databases. The following are things to consider in designing your strategy:
- Analyze your topic
- You may need to find information in different kinds of sources
[ Books | Journals | Newspapers | Magazines | Media (images, video, sound recordings)]
- You may need to use more than one library tool (database, etc.)
[ Some examples: Sociological Abstract | Academic Search Complete | America: History & Life ]
- You may need to explore a subject over a period of time
[ For example: 5 years | 20 years | 1960s | 19th Century | 20th Century ]
It is important to clarify what you are interested in finding out about your topic; familiarize yourself with the key issues and context. Begin by creating a research question. For example, what were the contributions of the Black Panther Party during the fight for civil rights and the lasting effects/legacies of their work?
- Select Keywords
- Create a list of Related Terms. Another way to express this, is to create a list of synonyms for the important concepts in or associated with your topic. Example topic question: what were the contributions of the Black Panther Party during the fight for civil rights and the lasting effects/legacies of their work?
- Narrower terms: (Good for limiting your search, excluding irrelevant information, or adding focus to your search)
Free Breakfast for School Children Program, black nationalism, marxism, MalcolmX, SNCC, Stoley Carmichael, dialectical materialism, Ten-Point Program, economic empowerment
- Population -gender (men, women), age (children/teens, adults, elderly), groups (artist, educators, clergy, ethnic/racial groups, etc.): Black Panther Party, Black Nationalists, Black Separatists, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, Eldridge Cleaver
- Geography - towns, cities, states, countries, regions: Oakland, Chicago, Seattle, Party Chapter Locations
- Time Period - current, decade, 20th Century, ancient: 1960 - 79
- Broader terms: (Allow you to explore the broader context of your topic. Good if you're having difficulty finding sources)
Civil Rights, Human Rights, Black Power, Nationalism, Separatism
- Create a Search Query
Many of our databases or search tools require that you use AND or OR to combine multiple terms/keywords in a search.
See examples below:
- police oppression AND Black Panther Party (narrows your search, both terms 'police oppression' and 'Black Panther Party' must appear)
- blacks OR African-Americans (broadens your search, one of the terms must appear. Good for use with synonyms.)
- police oppression AND (African-Americans OR blacks) (combines connectors AND/OR together in a search)
- Use a technique called truncation with the * symbol to search additional forms of a word when using a search tool or database.
Example: politic* will also find politic, political, politically, politician, politicians, politics.
oppression AND politic*
Be aware that the truncation symbol may vary depending on the database (*,#,?,!) are the most common.