Skip to Main Content
Link to Clark Family Library

Public Policy

Resources for Public Policy courses and research in the Public Service and Community Studies department.

Developing Keywords

Keywords are the building blocks of research. However, finding ones that produce the kind of search results that you are looking for can be tricky. These questions can be helpful to think through these questions when developing keywords:

  1. What are the important nouns in your research question?
  2. What are synonyms for those important nouns? How might different groups refer to your topic?
  3. Who are the key figures/ what are the key events that you learned about during your research with reference sources?

Like the research process, developing keywords is an iterative process, so don't panic if your first keywords don't produce the results that you were expecting.

Below are some resources from other libraries with further tips for developing keywords

Citation Chaining/Mining

In addition to searching in Discovery and in different databases on your own, another search strategy for finding resources utilizes the information that you gather through that searching. Nearly all scholarly sources, and many other reputable sources of information, will include Works Cited, Reference, or Bibliography pages (some will also include footnotes or endnotes). These are treasure troves of likely relevant resources to your topic. This method of searching, referred to as Citation Chaining or Citation Mining, can also be useful for figuring out the prominent scholars in a particular field. Dissertations and theses can be excellent resources for Citation Mining because their bibliographies tend to be very thorough.

Google and Google Scholar Search Tips

Policy Search Strategies

Google is often a useful site to find policy briefs and information from IGOs, NGOs, and Think Tanks. If you are looking for a policy brief, try enclosing that part of your search term in quotation marks to help narrow down your results.

If you are looking for information from a particular kind of organization, check out the specialized searches below or try using the "site:" feature at the end of your search term. This will limit the results to websites with only that ending. For example: 'woodland preservation "policy brief"' would return only results from .orgs that include "policy brief" in their materials.

You can also always ask a librarian for help with searching!