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Ekstrom Library

Research Experience for Undergraduates

Starting your Research Journey

After you have chosen a topic and wrote a research question that is open ended, focused, and unbiased, you are ready to start your research journey. Examples of research questions that need some adjustments:

  • Closed: Does additive manufacturing impact supply chains?
  • Too broad: What are impacts to supply chains?
  • Biased: How does additive manufacturing negatively impact supply chains?


Open ended, focused, and unbiased research question: How does additive manufacturing impact supply chains in the case of the automotive industry?

Generating Keywords

  1. Write out your research question. For example: "How does additive manufacturing impact supply chains?"
  2. Pull out the most important words from your research question: additive manufacturing, supply chain.
  3. Think of synonyms for these keywords. Additive Manufacturing: three-dimensional printing. Supply Chain: Production Management
  4. Think of broader keywords. Additive Manufacturing: Additives. Supply Chain: Inventory Control. Broader keywords are helpful if you aren't getting enough results.
  5. Think of narrower keywords. Additive Manufacturing: Additive Manufacturing Integration. Supply Chain: Supply Chain Resilience.  Narrower keywords are helpful if you're getting too many results.
  6. Start searching a library database with your keywords. Remember to try out different keyword combinations to get the best search results.
  7. Collect additional keywords as you search.

Narrowing or Broadening Your Search

Boolean Operators can help broaden or narrow your search results. The most commonly used Boolean Operators are AND, OR, and NOT. You have to capitalize the operator for the search engine to recognize it's functionality. 



  • A search on cars AND trucks will return results where both cars and trucks appear, not just one or the other. This will narrow your search.
  • A search on cars OR trucks will return results where either cars, trucks, or both cars and trucks appear. This broadens your search.
  • A search on cars NOT trucks will return results with cars and without trucks. This will narrow your search.