Geography, Geomatics, and Environmental Studies

Start with a topic

The first step to any research project is to choose a topic.  Often you can choose your own topic, however at times you may be called up to write on a specific topic or to choose from a listing.


What are you interested in finding out?

  • Select a topic that interests you whenever possible.
  • Gather and read background information.
  • Make a list of key concepts and write a research question or topic statement.  It's important to be as specific as possible!

Your research question or topic statement may change once you start searching.  If the question is too broad, you will need to go back and narrow your topic further. 

Prepare search strategy

Use search operators

To find relevant information, you need to translate your topic into a search strategy.

Here is a list of the most common search operators:

AND AND is used between keywords to find
results that contain all of the keywords
wetland AND ontario
OR  OR is used between keywords that are synonymous to find results that contain either keyword climate change OR global warming
NOT NOT is used to exclude a keyword from the results wetland NOT bog
" " Quotation marks - " " - are used to find results for exact phrases or expressions "climate change"
* The asterisk - * - is used to truncate a word to find results with various endings environment*
 will find environments,
 environmental, environmentally, etc.
( ) Parentheses - ( ) - are used to group keywords by concept (swamp* OR marsh*) AND ("climate change" OR "global warming")

Operators may vary from tool to tool. Consult specific help pages within the catalogues and databases for more information.

Find Background Information

Find Synonyms