Research is an iterative + creative process. A good research strategy incorporates multiple sources and lots of different search terms. Spend some time exploring your topic before honing in on the perfect research question.
➡️️ Start with a preliminary research question and identify the key terms.
➡️️ Before beginning your search, brainstorm additional terms related to your key terms.
➡️️ As you explore potential sources, add any new keywords you come across to your list.
➡️️ Do your search again (multiple times!) with different combinations of key terms.
➡️️ Try searching for the same combinations of key terms in a different database.
➡️️ Use the or page of a useful article to identify more relevant sources.
➡️️ Refine your research question based on your sources.
Once you have identified keywords, be strategic in how you implement them.
Concept mapping is a tool for visually representing ideas and the connections between them. They can be very useful in planning your research.
In the example below, drawn from Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues, the preliminary research question is in blue; brainstormed search terms are in grey; new search terms drawn from articles are orange; citations for relevant articles are green; and a new, refined research question is shown in red. By visualizing the research process, I was able to identify a new, more specific research question. The next step in the process would be to go back to the novel to identify passages that are relevant to my question.
You can create a concept map the old fashioned way (with pen+paper) or using a free online tool like MindMup.