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COMP (Online Sections)

Getting Started

Review each section below and complete the quiz at the end. To prepare for the quiz, download the worksheet. The quiz is based on the questions from this worksheet. If you need assistance answering a question, please ask a librarian.

After reviewing this page, you will better understand how to:

  • Refine your research topic/question
  • Develop effective search strategies
  • Perform an advanced search in databases to find articles
  • Use Ask A Librarian for help

1. Razor's Research Bytes

Razor's Research Bytes is a self-paced library orientation within Canvas. It is a series of "bite-size" online modules that introduce general research concepts and illustrate how to efficiently use library resources.

  1. Login to Canvas to complete Razor's Research Bytes (if you have not done so already for another class).
  2. After completing the modules, come back to this page to continue.

Don't know how to login in Canvas? Follow the instructions here.

Tip: If you are unable to access the library's course in Canvas, please contact the Alvin Sherman Library at

2. Narrowing A Research Topic

Choosing a research topic can be difficult. You don’t want a topic that it too broad because it is overwhelming. However, you also don’t want a topic that is too narrow and you cannot find enough sources.

The chart below shows how to transform the broad community of College Students into a more focused and narrow research question. Answering each question will help you brainstorm keywords for searching in the next step:

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3. Turning Your Topic Into Keywords

Library databases do not search like Google. Databases may only return results containing all of the words that you typed in the search box. This means that you cannot type your entire research question in the search box. Instead, do a keyword search by searching the main concepts that describe your topic.

The chart below shows how to turn your research question into keywords.


Once you know the main concepts of your research question or statement, brainstorm keywords and related terms. Using synoynyms or related words will help you get more results about your topic.

The chart below shows potential synonynms for the keyword: Extracurricular activities.

Tip: If you are not sure which keywords and related words to search in a library database, ask a librarian for help!

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Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators are the words that connect your keywords when searching an online database.
The words AND, OR, NOT give the database instructions about your keywords and the type of search results you'd like to find.

The chart below shows examples of using Boolean Operators.


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5. Searching Library Databases

A library database is an electronic collection of information and documents, including newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and more.

Databases are not considered "the internet." We use an internet browser to access library databases, but we are not searching a website. Unlike searching Google, using a library database will allow you to:

  • Limit a search by a keyword, author, date, publication, etc.
  • Find scholarly or peer reviewed sources
  • Avoid paywalls or other paid subscription content

The databases below tend to be helpful when getting started with topics in COMP 2000:

Tip: If you need help choosing a database, Ask a Librarian!

6. Quiz (COMP 2000)

Now that you have completed each section of this module, submit your quiz to your COMP professor for credit! To begin the quiz, click on the link below that corresponds to your course/professor.

You may use your completed worksheet to answer each question on the quiz. When finished, click "submit."
(Note: Answers will not save unless the quiz is submitted.  Do not close the quiz window before you submit the quiz.)