Identifying keywords

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When you start your research for an assignment, you can't just type your whole essay title into Google and expect to find great resources. To research successfully, you need to break your topic down into key words. Your first key words will be the main ideas from your title. So if your title is Discuss auteur theory in relation to Francis Ford Coppola, then your main ideas are going to be auteur theory, and Francis Ford Coppola; words like discuss and in relation to aren't really useful for your search.

First of all, jot down your key words and some alternative terms. And by that I mean other ways of describing your topic along with any relevant ideas that sprang to mind in this example, I'd write down Apocalypse Now. And the Godfather is these are films of Francis Ford Coppola directed to generate some more keywords. I type auteur theory into Google, and then see what Wikipedia has to say, adding names and dates of prominent theorists to my list of keywords.

Credo Reference and Oxford Reference Online are also great online encyclopaedias which are linked from your subject guides. So I'd repeat my search for each of these and add the results to my keywords.

By the time you've got a decent list of keywords, you've also done some great background reading. So now you're ready to take your keywords to the Library Search and track down some really good quality resources.