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QUEST Research Model: Step 1: Question


Quest Model Graphic (Question)

QUESTION: What Do I Want to Know?

Pre-writing strategies for narrowing your topic and writing a strong thesis statement:

1) Brainstorm by answering these questions:

What do you want to know? What are your interests? What do you wonder about those topics?

What do you want your essay to accomplish? How well does this topic fit the assignment? Why does this matter? Why do you believe what you do about the topic?

What are the different facets to this topic? Who are the parties involved?

2) Brainstorm some more. . .

I wonder if...

Is it possible...

What would happen if...

What does the future hold for...

Search Using Keywords

Learn how to use the keywords developed after watching the video above, and improve your search results.

What Do You Already KNOW?


Keywords will help you search for information


  • The main concepts in your question
  • Descriptive words
  • Synonyms and related terms

Tips for finding Keywords:

  • From subject headings & related topics found on articles
  • From the text of articles
  • From Internet search results

Next Steps

How to write a research question: From the Writing Center at George Mason University. (WORD)

Creating a Thesis Statement: Tips and examples for writing thesis statements from Purdue OWL.

Thesis Statement: From the Writing Center at George Mason University. (WORD)

Quick Tips & Shortcuts for Database Searching

Brainstorming Keywords

Two minute video explaining how to create effective keywords for searching databases.

What are Keywords?

Keywords best represent your main

  • Concepts
  • Ideas
  • Issues
  • Events
  • People

Keywords are NOT whole statements or questions.Space

Improving Your Keywords:

Use Synonyms

The vocabulary you use may be different than vocabulary used by others. Look for the "Subjects" the database uses to tag or label the articles you find.

Tip: Databases offer related terms and subject terms as links

Use Related Terms:

  • Associated with the topic
  • Connected to the topic, but have a different meaning


  • Use multiple keywords to limit & focus results
    • And / Or / Not
  • Combining keywords may limit results too much
  • Searching using a question doesn't work