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SOC101: Introduction to Sociology | Search Terms & Keywords

Resources and search tips for SOC101: Introduction to Sociology

Your Librarian

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Amanda Walch
Raugust Library, Reference & Instruction Office
701-252-3467 ext. 5441

Searching is easier with keywords

Before you start searching, take a few minutes to brainstorm some search terms.

Having a good list of search terms, or keywords, will make your searching so much easier! You'll have multiple options of words to try, if some don't seem as useful as others.

Because library databases aren't good at searching natural language (the way we speak and ask questions naturally), it's especially important to break down your topic or questions into keywords.


Basic questions can help you brainstorm keywords:

  • Who is involved? Who is affected?
  • Are there key figures related to your topic?
  • What are the key issues and questions surrounding your topic?
  • Are there important events, laws, policies, or theories related to your topic?
  • Are there key dates associated with your topic? When did major events related to your topic happen? 
  • Are you focused on a particular time frame or period of history?
  • Is there a geographic location that is important to your topic? 
  • Can you focus your topic on a particular location?
  • How will you find out about your topic?
  • What kinds of sources will you read or try to find? Primary sources? Data or statistics?
  • Why are you interested in your topic? Why should others be interested?
  • Why does your topic matter?

When you have a list of keywords, take a second pass through it and try to come up with synonyms or related terms.