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Research Guides

Spanish Studies: Topics, Keywords, & Search Tips

From Topic to Research Focus

Strategy A) To narrow your topic to a researchable question or statement, complete the following statements:

1)  I am researching ________________________ (topic)
2)  because I want to find out ____________  (issue/question)
3)  in order to ________________________ (application/significance).


Strategy B) Making Connections. Complete this worksheet to make scholarly connections between a primary text and related themes.

These are just two strategies, get more help by making at appointment with a writing tutor at the OWRC.

Find more suggestions from:

Sample Keywords - La lengua de las mariposas

Research Question: ¿Como se trata la tema de infancia en La lengua de las mariposas?

Brainstorm Keywords (start with main concepts above, and then add synonyms and related terms):

Manuel Rivas lengua de las mariposas infancia cuento
José Luis Cuerda qué me quieres, amor childhood short story
  butterfly infan* pelicula
  butterfly’s tongue child* film


Sample Keywords - Rosa Montero

Research Question: ¿Cual es la  técnica narrativa en Como la Vida Misma?

Brainstorm Keywords (start with main concepts above, and then add synonyms and related terms):

Author name title of work theme genre

Rosa Montero

Como la Vida Misma

narrator OR narrador





short stories



narrative technique




técnica narrativa






Sample Search

Advanced search sample: rosa montero AND (narrative technique OR tecnica narrativa)

Understanding Keywords

Keywords are the essential elements that describe complex ideas and topics; the important, descriptive nouns and verbs. Do not try to search sentences—find keywords or keyword phrases.

Focus on the concepts at the heart of your question first. Using these core concepts you will generate several relevant keywords that will better focus your search results.

5 Steps to Generating Keywords

  1. Have a well-formed research question
  2. Extract core terms from this research question
  3. Brainstorm a list of alternative terms or phrases for each core term
  4. Organize the list of terms and phrases by creating a hierarchy, indicating broader and narrower terms for each core term
  5. Identify which terms you would combine to conduct a search

Hot Search Tips

* = truncation symbol, your friend

Two searches: 1 in English, one in Spanish