Identifying Keywords related to your topic.

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You might try "brainstorming" with a group of friends to think of other terms authors and indexers might use to describe your idea for a topic to research.  One author may use the word "teen" in the title of an article, but a person who works for the company compiling a database may decide to label that article as being about "youth" or "adolescents" instead of "teen."

One example from the "real world" might help:  Imagine that you're hungry for a BigMac, but your friend is driving and pulls into a BurgerKing.   You can't buy a BigMac at BurgerKing, but they do sell big hamburgers using a different NAME.....a "Whopper."  Just think of all the different names used by fast food restaurants to identify their hot sandwiches.  This is an example of what librarians call a "controlled vocabulary."

Librarians can help you use a 5-volume set of big red books, called the Library of Congress Subject Headings, which list broader, narrower, or related terms that are used as the "controlled vocabulary" in the online catalogs and periodical indexes or databases you'll be using to find books and articles. This "LCSH" tool can also often lead you directly to the letters and numbers used by the Library of Congress (LC) classification system to group together books on the same subject.  Our Library's stacks are arranged in LC call number order.

As you begin your research, be sure to follow the "clues" that are included in the detail level of the records you find for books and articles.  The most useful clues are those given as descriptions of  what the item is about (usually labeled subject or descriptor).  These often appear on your screen as underlined blue words ("hyperlinks") so that a click of your mouse will launch a new search of all the items in the database given that specific label. Remember, you can also Ask a Librarian.

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