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HIST/URB 971: Seminar on the History of American Urban Problems

This guide is designed to support research for Amanda Seligman's History of American Urban Problems which is cross-listed with Urban Studies

Workshop Links

Workshop Links

Planning Your Research

Create a mind map to organize your ideas and focus your topic

In class we used Google Jamboard to brainstorm keywords, but there are no rules to concept mapping. The main objectives of mind/concept mapping are to identify patterns and connections in what you already know, to begin developing a list of search terms, and to identify aspects of your topic that need to be refined.

concept map diagram for focusing and planning a graduate level research topic

Brainstorming keywords

This video demonstrates how to brainstorm keywords (search terms) for systematic searching.

Add to your keyword list

If you get stuck brainstorming Search Terms, there are a number of techniques you can use to increase the variety of keywords:

  • Talk out your research with a classmate or colleague who has similar interests
  • Browse the sources you've already found. Look for author supplied keywords and other language used by scholars of your topic
  • When searching, look at the terms listed under the "Topics" or "Subjects" filter on your search results page or the linked subject headings included on a source's landing page.
  • Look up your topic in a text book or encyclopedia. These "tertiary" sources are useful for identifying the key people, institutions, context, and concepts associated with your topic. See the links below for suggested starting points.

Recommended Tertiary Sources:

Tips for entering and combining keywords (search terms)

The way you enter and combine terms matters. In addition to brainstorming keywords, think about how you might enter or combine terms to create highly specific search queries.