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Oklahoma City Community College Keith Leftwich Memorial Library

LIS 1111 - Research Skills

This LibGuide is for students in the LIS 1111 class.


When you are beginning your research, it is important to have an idea of what you'd like to research. If you are wanting to research "genocide", you might start your search at Google or Wikipedia. Upon performing this research you realize that you need to narrow down your topic of "genocide" to something more specific. Google and Wikipedia are great resources to use. Another way to help narrow or focus your topic is to create a concept map. Concept maps can help organize thoughts and ideas, and the relationship between the two. It is also a great way to brainstorm your research topic.

The vocabulary you use in researching is important. You may need to play with your keywords to help find information. If your topic is on the history of cars, you may want to use automobile in place of car to change what type of search results you get back.

Look at the two examples attached below.

  • Example Concept Map: You can create a concept map using a piece of paper. Write down all the keywords you think are relevant then draw lines connecting idea to idea. 
  • Example of Brainstorming and Backup Keywords: This is similar to the Keyword Exercise due this week in Moodle. Brainstorm the who, what, when, where, why, how, and synonyms related to your topic. Write down as much as you can, then go to Google or Wikipedia to add additional keywords. Then you'll put several keywords together to create a narrower or more focused topic.

Brainstorming your Keywords

Brainstorm main ideas, keywords, and associations that you already know. Consider the who, what, when, where, why of your topic.

Who is involved/impacted? 

A specific age group, occupation, ethnic group, gender, etc. Who does/doesn't support it?

What is the problem?

What is the issue facing the "who" in your topic? Are there any synonyms? 

Where is it happening?

A specific country, region, city, physical environment, rural vs. urban, etc.

When is this happening?

Is this a current issue or an historical event? Will you discuss the historical development of a current problem?

Why/How is it happening / Why is this a problem?

You may want to focus on causes or argue the importance of this problem by outlining historical or current ramifications. Or you may decide to persuade your instructor and class why they should care about the issue.

Putting Keywords Together

When you put your keywords together, you get a general idea in what direction you are taking your research paper, which will, in turn, help with your thesis statement.

I want to know about genocide. genocide    
Why did the Rwanda Genocide occur? genocide Rwanda  
How did the United States handle the Rwanda Genocide? genocide Rwanda U. S.


It's rare to get exactly what you are searching for on the first try. Be flexible.

If you get too few results:

  • try some synonyms for your topic and keywords, example: United States, U.S., America, USA
  • try broader terms, example: mass murder, race extermination 
  • check your spelling

If you have too many results:

  • add keywords, example: United States Foreign Policy, Africa, Hutu, Tutsi

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is usually a single sentence at the beginning of a research paper that tells the reader what to expect from your paper. It is sometimes a question you are going to answer or a claim that you are going to prove.You will notice in the box above that a thesis statement can be formed as a result of finding and brainstorming keywords and putting those keyword together into a more narrowed idea or question. Sometimes, especially if you are wanting to prove something, you will need to start reading through the sources you find to learn more about your topic before creating your thesis.


Google can be a great ally in researching if you know how to use it. The first article below explains how Google rank orders your search results to bring back the most relevant information first. The second link leads you to an infographic on the best ways to search using Google. Both of these links are important in order for you to find the information you need in Google. Keep in mind, though, that even if use good Google search skills, you'll find (in Unit/Week 4) that it is essential to evaluate any website before you choose to use it as a source. 

You may prefer to use other search engines rather than Google. Some people prefer Bing or Yahoo. If you are more comfortable with a different search engine, feel free to use the one you prefer instead.


Wikipedia is a great resource to use to help you find sources, learn background information, and help you find keywords that may help direct where your research should lead. Wikipedia should never be cited as a source, and you should check to make sure the information is accurate before it goes into your paper.

Read through the three links below regarding Wikipedia. You may need to log in with your Moodle/Portal login to access the articles. You will be prompted to do so if it is required.

This Week's Assignments

This week you will be required to complete forum postings and the Keyword Exercise. Go to Moodle for details and for assignment due dates.