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HP 5379 (research methods)

Mapping Your Research Question

When searching your topic, you should break apart your issue into each major concept. For example, if I am interested in potential mental health issues people faced as a result of the Covid-19 isolation my separate areas would be: mental health, covid-19, and isolation.  These topics become the basis for your keywords to search in the databases. However, these three terms should not be my only keywords. For each area you should also brainstorm synonyms. This is because there are many ways that an article might describe the same concept. For “mental health” therefore, some other keywords might be depression, loneliness, suicidal thoughts etc. Including synonyms for each of your concepts makes your search much more robust.

a picture of a concept map

Searching the Database

Once your keywords (including synonyms) are selected you can move on to searching in the databases. A database is a platform or technology that hosts content from journals, newspapers, archives etc. Recently, it has become common practice for students to turn to Google Scholar as their primary tool for searching. However, this is not the most efficient or refined way to search. Google Scholar is an acceptable supplement for searching but should not make up the bulk of your research. In addition, using the Baylor Libraries OneSearch is only searching a very limited number of articles available to you. To identify potential databases, travel to the Baylor Libraries databases page at and use the subjects pull down menu to see databases listed by particular field.

Ebsco can be a particularly useful platform to use since it allows you to search several databases at one time. In the databases list I can click on Academic Search Complete and be taken to the Ebsco platform. At the top you can click on “choose databases”. You will then see a list of all the databases the library subscribes to from Ebsco, multiple databases can be selected. Some of the best databases for public health topics include: Medline, CINAHL, and APA PsycINFO. You should see all of those in this list. Because public health is interdisciplinary you should also select a database from the social sciences or outside the realm of strict medicine. For example, for my topic of covid isolation and depression I might choose “Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection” from the “choose databases” list.

this is a picture of what the search bar looks like in Ebsco


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