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Ready resources

  • Subject Guides subject guides and course guides created by UCO librarians.
  • Subject-specific encyclopedias, such as those available in print or electronically

Research recordkeeping

As you search the library databases (or elsewhere), you can use this worksheet to keep track of your searching.

(Worksheet adapted from: Ridley, D. (2008). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.)

Step 1: Develop a "snapshot"

  • Brainstorm to develop a list of synonyms, keywords, and subject terms -- see example below
  • Identify trends and subproblems 


Try to think broadly and brainstorm at this stage to generate as many possible words that might be related and give you relevant results.  For example:

Topic: using iPads to enhance early childhood literacy


  • early literacy
  • reading readiness
  • early childhood education
  • mobile devices

Related Keywords:

  • literacy activities
  • early childhood development
  • technology assisted or technology enabled learning
  • individual digital devices
  • tablets
  • children
  • reading activities
  • pre-reading activities

Possible Subject Terms:  (Search with these terms by choosing an advanced search and choosing to search in the Subject Heading.  To discover these terms for your topic, look at some of your initial search results and see what terms are listed under the word Subject in the library catalog.)

  • early childhood education
  • early childhood education -- activity programs
  • early childhood development
  • language arts (early childhood)
  • reading (early childhood)
  • reading promotion
  • child literacy
  • early literacy
  • signs and symbols -- study and teaching (early childhood)
  • preschool 

Keep track of your searching!

TIP: Keep track of your searching! 

In the long run, you will save yourself significant time and frustration if you keep track of your searching, because searching is often a long and iterative process. That means that you may have to repeat and refine your search process many times before you start hitting "pay dirt."

For example, if you start by researching a topic with which you are unfamiliar, you probably won't enter a search term that makes much sense in a particular database. As you identify certain keywords, topics, and subject headings, however, your search will lead you in different directions. Some will be dead ends, but others might be so interesting that you end up changing your preliminary research question!

The point: By keeping track of your search process, you will be a more effective and efficient searcher.

Who knows? In the future you might want to revisit the same topic from a different angle. Take note of these possibilities in your research journal and return to them later.

Keep track of such elements as:

  • the date you searched (may be used later in your works cited page)
  • where you searched
  • keywords, synonyms, phrases, and subject terms you used (see examples to the right)
  • variations of terms you used (different spelling, abbreviations, etc.)
  • popular tags (your own or those of other researchers)
  • number of returned results
  • bibliographic information of sources (used later in your works cited page)
  • ideas and citations to explore later