To get a topic, start with your subject.
"What method is best for teaching children how to spell?"
"What are the latest theories about the extinction of dinosaurs?"
"What effect, if any, does violence in the media have on children?"
"What are the latest treatments for depression?"
Narrow your topic down from a broad subject. It helps to think of a question that you'd like to answer.
Instead of: "I like listening to music", ask "What are the positive effects of music on college students?"
Next create a search strategy by identifying key concepts in your topic summary, for example:
I want to find information on how home schooling affects social development.
Now you can use the terms "home schooling" and "social development" in a search.
I want to investigate the seasonal patterns in the vertical distribution of phytoplankton.
Now you can use the terms "seasonal patterns", "vertical distribution", and "phytoplankton" in a search.
The word "and" can give you exclusivity in your search results by combining terms.
The word "or" used in your search is great for words that are synonymns or are used interchangeably.
Finally, the word "not" gives you the greatest control over your results by allowing you to exclude certain terms from your search. For example, the "Gap Year" is a common in Britain when students take time off between high school and college for travel, self-discovery, etc., but you may only be interested in American Gap Year students.
To help with searches put phrases in quotations otherwise search engines will assume that each term is a seperate identity, for example:
Truncation is used when a search term has many variations. Place an asterik or question mark at the end of the truncated word when searching. See examples below: