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Information Systems: Create a Plan

Welcome! This guide will point you to a variety of useful resources for research in the information systems discipline.

Brainstorming & Selecting Keywords

 Before starting to search an article database for information on your topic some thought should be put into what you need for the assignment, paper or project.  This planning will help save time and provide more relevant search results.  The suggestions listed below are meant as a guide to help you plan your research.


Topic: Healthcare Costs in the United States

1.     Break the topic down into main concepts. (healthcare, costs, united states)

2.     What sort of information are you seeking – case studies, data, theories, reviews and etc.

3.    Create a list of “keywords” that are important to your topic.
health care, healthcare, medical care
        b.  costs, benefits, expenses, expenditures, medical costs, medical benefits
        c.  United States

4.    Think about ways to combine these words using AND or OR
        a.     (healthcare AND costs) = AND search looks for both words & narrows the search results.
        b.     (costs OR benefits) = OR search broadens the search results.

5.     Do any of your words belong in phrases or strings – together in a certain order, like a cliché`?
       Search these as a phrase quote: “medical costs” or “ medical benefits”

6.     What type of Database?
        a.      Full-text includes the entire article
        b.     Abstract – includes an article citation

7.     Are results too large? Apply limits to the search
        a.      Where to search – in the text, title, abstract
        b.     What kind of publication:  scholarly, newspaper, trade or popular magazine
        c.      Do you want current articles – last 5 years, or does not matter?

8.     Can you think of societies, organizations, or groups that might have information
      on your subject?  Search these as a “phrase in quotes”.


Start out with a general search and then get more specific.  You want to see all of what’s out there on your topic.  You can always refine it as you continue searching.  If you are having trouble identifying additional keywords, then thesauri, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and online encyclopedias like Wikipedia can be great places to look for inspiration. 

Combine Keywords

When researching, we are like detectives trying to combine the right terms in the right place to find the information we need. The Gathering Information page will help you to decide where to search, but how should you combine search terms to find what you are looking for?

Broad Search

Search for information using the single most important term related to your topic. Use this type of search when looking for basic background information.

Specific Search

Search for information by combining key concepts using the words you have brainstormed. Each concept/word should be separated by the word "AND". Use this kind of search when looking for specific evidence related to your claim/thesis.

Getting Too Many Irrelevant Results?

Add more search terms.

Getting Too Few Relevant Results?

Change or remove some search terms.


Too many results or too few? This tutorials teaches you how to focus your search and how to expand it.
Time ~ 2:46