Skip to Main Content
Banner Header

PRAP 130 (Spring 2014, Rinn/Shao): Getting Started

This is a research guide to help you find sources for your annotated bibliography. It was designed for PRAP 130, Databases in Information Science.


This research guide will help you find sources for your annotated bibliography. Use the tabs above to navigate the guide.

If you get stuck at any point during your research, feel free to contact librarian Amelia Koford, visit the reference desk, or try our online chat service. Links are in the boxes to the right.

Starting research

Before you start looking for information, take a few minutes to state a research question, identify possible keywords, and brainstorm alternate keywords. This will help focus your searches and save you time.

1. State a research question

Stating a research question will help you clarify your thoughts. For example, if you are investigating genetic engineering, you could ask questions such as:

  • What ethical concerns have been raised about gene therapy in humans?
  • What are the arguments for and against genetically modified foods?

2. Identify possible keywords

Look at your question. What are the key concepts? For example:

  • What ethical concerns have been raised about gene therapy in humans?

3. Brainstorm alternate keywords

Once you have picked out the keywords in your question, make a list of synonyms, related terms, broader terms, and narrower terms. Some good ways to find alternative terms are looking in reference works like encyclopedias, talking to professors and librarians, and brainstorming with friends.

Come back to this list for keywords to use when searching for information. As you seach, you may notice other terms used in the literature. Add these to the list. You may also find subject headings used in the controlled vocabulary of the catalogs and databases.

For example:


Ethic* (In many databases and catalogs, an asterisk can be used for truncation. Ethic* will search for any word that begins with "ethic," including "ethics" or "ethical.")


Gene therapy:

"Genetic engineering" (Broader term. In many databases and catalogs, quotation marks can be used to keep a phrase together in a search.)

"Genetic screening" (Related term)

Genomics (Related term)

Genetic therapy (Subject heading used in the MeSH controlled vocabulary)




"Homo sapiens"

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Amelia Koford
Library Office 115

Reference Desk

Picture of reference desk

Visit the reference desk for personalized help with research of all kinds.

Call us: 830-372-8100

Reference Hours

Monday-Thursday: 10:30am-noon, 1-5pm

Tuesday evening: 6-10pm

Friday: 10:30am-noon, 1-3pm