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Research Guide

What is a Whiteboard?

A whiteboard is a table of keywords related to your topic.

Each column represents a different keyword for your topic.

The rows consist of synonyms or words related to the word at the top of the column. i.e. If you are doing research on "Christian perfection," the column for that keyword would include "holiness" and "entire sanctification."


Before you begin the search process, make a list or develop a whiteboard to brainstorm keywords related to your topic. Keep it by your side when you start your research.

The keywords you use can have a profound impact on the results of your research.

Play detective! It is the job of the researcher to figure out how to unlock the resources he or she needs.

When searching for articles on holiness, what is the best search term to use? Christian perfection? Entire sanctification? All of them!

If the keywords you choose initially do not give you the results you need, try the others on your list or use the search strategies listed under Step 2.

If you get too many results, try narrowing the search by adding additional search terms from your whiteboard.

Developing a Whiteboard

Helpful tips for constructing a whiteboard of search terms include:

  • Brainstorm keywords for your topic
  • Look at your research questions
  • Consider whether your topic concerns a specific region or people group
  • Look in a thesaurus for synonyms and antonyms of your keywords
  • Look at the keywords assigned to articles
  • Do background research by reading encyclopedia articles and other sources that provide foundational knowledge about your topic
  • Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend