Identify key concepts

tekijä: Tuija Irmeli Oksman Viimeisin muutos maanantai 10. heinäkuuta 2017, 11.26

    Systematic information seeking starts with defining your topic, formulating your research questions and identifying the key concepts of your study. Finding background information is an important step when defining the topic. At this stage, you are not yet systematically searching for scientific sources for the theoretical background of your study. Instead, your main target is to get enough general knowledge about your subject to get properly started with you work.

    mind map helps you organize your thoughts and ideas, and to articulate your topic idea. 

    Read extensively about the subject matter to get an overview of your topic and to clarify your approach to the subject matter. Get to know the terminology by consulting encyclopedias, reference works, handbooks, dictionaries and thesauri. You should also find out what aspects of the topic have been studied before in theses. 

    Video Where do search terms come from? (4 min) shows you how to work on your search terms.

    Choose English subtitles from the quotation mark icon below the video screen: subtitles.png
    (If the video does not work below, use this link to watch the video.)

    Sources for background information

    Your prior knowledge of the topic

     How did you find your topic? What was said about it? Who were referred to?
    Seminal work in your field How is the topic handled in the seminal works?
    Reference books An excellent way of getting familiar with concepts, terminology, research traditions of your field and topic
    Reviews A direct route to getting to know the best sources for your topic. Pay attention to the date of publication.
    Theses and dissertations Often include literary review and/or a summary about research tradition of the subject matter.
    Social media and the web Are there any blogs or journals or other web resources by researchers that are important for your subject matter?
    MOT-dictionaries For finding terminology translations

    After you have gotten an overview of your topic and clarified your approach, you will be able to define

    • your central perspectives on the topic
    • the relationships between the different perspectives and their concepts
    • alternative search terms 
    The library has general and field-specific reference works for accessing and browsing basic facts and information about your topic. Consult encyclopedias, handbooks and reference books, literature reviews and thesis to get an overview of your topic. 

    Encyclopedias and handbooks

    You can find following material in a printed and/or electronic format in the library:

    All electronic reference books can be accessed via JYKDOK. 
    • Encyclopedic reference books in your own field
    • Handbooks including more extensive articles
    • Subject term glossaries, thesauri and dictionaries 

    Searching for encyclopedias in JYKDOK 

    • When you know the name of the book, do a basic search, e.g. "Encyclopedia of political theory".
    • To find field-specific encyclopedias, try advanced search using your subject, e.g. 
      "political science" AND encyclopedia

    Searching for online encyclopedia databases in JYKDOK

    • When you know the name of the database, do a basic search, e.g. "Oxford reference online". 
    • If you want a list of subject-related reference books or encyclopedia databases, search by entering your subject, 
      e.g. education reference books. Do the search and choose Databases in the right-hand side menu.


    Literature reviews

    • Reviews include useful summaries of studies and results.
    • You will find reviews in public Finnish databases and international databases specific to your field.

    Example: Use your preliminary research subject as a search term, and add "review", "literature review" or "review article". E.g.
    "environmental management" 


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