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3. Searching 101: Dive right in - Identify the main concept

Imagine that, at one time or another during your college career, you plan to write papers about each question below. To begin your search for resources, you first need to identify the words that best describe the main ideas in each question.


Can you identify main concepts? Try the Main Concepts activity.

How did you do? Finding the key terms in a research statement is a lot like finding the main idea in an essay or story. Often the main idea is in the first paragraph but not always. Sometimes it is in a later paragraph or even the conclusion. The same is true when finding the key terms in a research statement.

Your goal is to find the terms most appropriate for searching and to leave out those words that are unimportant. Generally this means to focus on nouns and avoid adjectives and adverbs. So ask yourself, if you were to tag this research question so you could find it later, what terms would you use? Those are likely to be the key concepts.

Try another set The goal is 2-4 terms per statement. Hint: They are usually nouns.


Can you identify main concepts? Try the Main Concepts 2 activity.


For more practice, try the Main Concept Practice activity.

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