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Researching Technical Communications Topics: Developing a Search Strategy

For COMM238, COMM256, and other Technical Communications classes

For your report, you will be required to conduct research on a topic related to your field. It is important to find relevant, credible, quality information from multiple perspectives in order to present a balanced and quality argument or recommendation. This guide will assist you through the research process as you search for information. If you need assistance finding information, connect with the librarian who taught your class. 

Search Strategy

For any search, it is helpful to develop a search strategy before you begin so that your search is narrowed and focused.

1. Define your topic

Decide what you want to research based upon your assignment requirements. Then, turn your topic into a research question. Focus your search on answering all aspects of that question.


Your topic is "an aspect of discrimination in the Canadian workplace".

Your research question could be: "What is age discrimination in the workplace and what are Canadian businesses doing to prevent it?" 

2. Choose your keywords

Identify the main concepts in your question and develop keywords based upon that question. Brainstorm synonyms and related concepts for your keywords. 

Make your search make your search more effective by using the following to separate your keywords (terms):

  • AND - find all  the terms (ex.  "age discrimination" AND workplace)

  • OR - find any of the terms (ex. workplace OR workforce)

  • NOT - exclude a certain term (ex. Canada NOT "United States")


Your keywords could be:

Age Discrimination, Ageism

Workplace, workforce, business

Canada, Canadian

3. Select your search tools

You can find credible information using Library Search, the main search box on the library homepage. You also may need to select subject specific resources and/or search engines like Google to fully answer your research question. It is good practice to draw information from a variety of sources.

EXAMPLE: A search string based upon the above concepts could be:

("Age discrimination" OR ageism) AND (Work* OR business) AND Canad*

4. Search, refine, and search again

Search for your topic, refine your search string, and then search again. 

Connect with the Library

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