A research plan helps you come up with and keep track of useful search terms to use when searching for information sources. Remember, no one set of terms is perfect; your goal is to find the best combination of terms (in each resource) to find the best sources. When switching from one info resource to another (such as from books to articles), you may need to change the combination of terms you use to be successful.
Pose your topic in the form of a statement OR a question.
Choose 2-4 most important terms (keywords) drawn directly from your research statement/question and write each in the Keywords column in separate boxes.
In the synonyms column, write at least ONE synonym, or related term (broader or narrower) for each keyword.
Tip: For ideas for synonyms/related terms, write down in the Synonyms/Related Terms column any subject headings from a helpful book or article citation record to use as potential search terms.
Sample Research Plan
The following sample research plans illustrate how a Research Plan can help you develop and keep track of search terms that are useful in finding information sources on your topic. (For a blank form, and instructions on how to use it, see the Creating a Research Plan box below.)
This sample research plan illustrates how to keep track of (and generate new ideas for additional) useful search terms to use when looking in databases for books, ebooks, articles, and other information resources on your topic.