For any topic, there are numerous scholarly conversations that are occurring simultaneously. No one can be an expert on all of the conversations but you can pick a particular conversation to enter.
Sometimes BEFORE you can select a conversation, you need to survey the room, listening to lots of different conversations, in order to pick the one which interests you the most. An excellent way to see what conversations are already taking place is to conduct a preliminary search on your proposed topic.
Before searching, it is helpful to complete a mind map or brainstorm about your topic. You may find the following Google Docs Mind Mapping template helpful.
A Search String is the search terms you plan to use to find resources about your topic. Using your Mind Mapping worksheet and/or the Research Question/Conversation you have selected, create a search string using keywords you have identified.
If you have several terms that are synonyms, you may combine them using OR. For more information about constructing search terms see the following link.
As you begin locating resources on your topic, you will find new search terms or new conversations related to your topic. For example, while searching you may find a resource that catches your eye.
Under a book or article citation, you will see Subjects related to your search as shown below. Click on any of the subjects to find articles specific to that subject.
Use the Subject heading in the left menu bar to view a list of subject headings related to your search as well.
These subjects may change your topic, narrow your topic, or otherwise take your research in a new direction. You may find you need to complete a new mind map or a new search string using the new information you have found.