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Spring 2021: Sherrill and Moriarty Library are closed as part of the Lesley University COVID-19 response.  Please visit us online through our library website and via our Ask-A-Librarian service,and see our Remote Services Guide.

Summer 2020 Residencies

Moving from topic to research question
  • People

The group, population, or demographic involved

  • Problem

The issue in focus

  • Perspective

The point of view or angle from which the issue is being approached

  • Place

Both physical and incorporeal

Is there a difference between keyword searching and natural language?  You may be able to type sentences and thoughts into Google, but a) the databases don’t work that way and b) natural language searching can lead to imprecise results


  • ANDS - linking the nouns directly related to your topic
  • ORS can be very important, especially if your idea is focused and specific, or if you are thinking about something that hasn’t been thoroughly treated in the literature, or something that could be described in more than one way.
  • NOTS - words that aren't relevant that could otherwise show up in a search

Be aware that the language you might use to express your topic, might not be the language that will help you find your results – be flexible! notice the language in other articles! Use database subject headings (and bibliographies- more on that later)

Even if you are not sure what your research question is – thinking about the modality and population you are interested in is a start!

The research cycle

The research cycle can seem like a very daunting task. One of the most common misconceptions about the research cycle is that it is a linear process, working from Point A to Point B. In reality, the research cycle is more cyclical in nature. This means that more often than not, you will find yourself circling back and forth between "stages" as you gather and absorb information. This is completely normal. Information is meant to influence your work, and so it makes sense that as you take in more information, your initial plans adjust accordingly.



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