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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.

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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

Sample Keywords

Research Question: En Coser y Cantar cómo se trata el tema de identidad cultural?

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

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4
identidad cultural Dolores Prida Coser y Cantar drama
cultural identity   Beautiful Señoritas and Other Plays theater
identidad OR identity     teatro
culture OR cultura      

From Keywords to Database Searching

Mix and match your keywords to find sources in UW Libraries Search, Google Scholar, or a research database.

Example searches:

identidad AND Dolores Prida

Search Tips:

* = truncation symbol, your friend

Two searches: 1 in English, one in Spanish

Evaluating your Sources

Organize your Research

Citing Sources