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MRKG 1311 SO Sheetz: Starting Your Research

Course guide created for MRKG 1311 SO, Jennifer Sheetz, Instructor.

Research Tips

Once you have chosen your topic, the next step is to begin collecting information you can use to support your writing. Your instructor will tell you how many sources you are required to use for each essay. Here are a few steps you can take that will make this research process easier.

  • Know something about your topic. This sounds like a no-brainer but it will help in several ways - it can help you choose search terms (unique words for the topic) that can be used for searching, it will also help you evaluate the reliability of the information you find with your search.
  • Narrow down your topic. A broad topic is always more difficult to research than a specific one. A search like  "employer healthcare" will get you thousands of search results, so you will spend a lot of time going through those results to find what you need. A search like "employer healthcare" and solutions will find fewer results and they will be more specific to your topic.
  • Investigate different resources. You will miss out on lots of information if you limit yourself to using resources you can find online - whether databases or internet. The older your topic is, the more useful you will find books for your research. Books are generally more thoroughly researched and will give you more in-depth information than articles found in databases.
  • Check your sources with your instructor. If you are not sure if the sources you are using are acceptable, contact your instructor during their office hours and ask that they take a look at what you have found thus far. If you are heading down the wrong road this can save you many hours of redoing your research!
  • Ask a Librarian! Each TCC Library has professional researchers (librarians) available in-person and online to help students with the research process. They can help you focus your research, sometimes suggest keywords to use for your topic, and guide you to the best resources available. To ask for help online, send an email to:

Brainstorm Keywords

Brainstorm keywords that represent the main concept(s) of your topic.  Think about what words you would want to see in an article that may indicate it would be useful for your research.

Topic: impact of oil drilling on the Texas coast
Key concepts: impact oil drilling Texas coast
Related keywords: effect oil production offshore
  consequence oil mining away from shore


Need more help?  Try the Keyword Generator from California State University, Fullerton.  It walks you through the process of finding keywords relevant to your topic.

Develop a Search Strategy

Combine the keywords you brainstormed into a search strategy.  Put phrases in quotation marks and/or use AND, OR, NOT (Boolean operators) to get more precise results.

Broad Search

Search for information using the single most important term related to your topic.

Narrow Search

Search for information by combining keywords you brainstormed.

Too many irrelevant results? 

Add more keywords.

Too few relevant results? 

Remove or change keywords     

Still not there? Try: