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NSP: Faith & Reason

Strategies and tips to locate resources for your research project

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Suggested Research Ideas

You have the opportunity to explore a topic that is of high interest to you.  Some suggestions from your instructors:

  • Galileo
  • Research ethics
  • Medical ethics
  • Controversy surrounding the Kansas Schools Board's science standards from the last decade
  • Scopes Monkey Trial
  • GMOs
  • Or another topic that you've read about or discussed in this course

Just using the phrases listed above, you can easily locate the vocabulary used to describe these ideas.  Here are some samples:

Topic Keywords Subject Headings 





Roman Inquisition in 1615

Catholic church leaders

Galileo, 1564-1642.

Religion and Science AND History

Inquisition AND Italy AND Rome AND History AND 16th century

Catholic Church AND History AND 16th century

Urban VIII, Pope, 1568-1644

Research Ethics




Individual research projects

Testing on human subjects

Testing on animal subjects

Funding for research

 Research AND Moral and ethical aspects



Professional ethics

Religion and ethics

Social values

Research grants

Medical Issues

Stem Cell Research




Infertility and birth control

Stem cells AND Research

Human cloning

Tissue engineering


Reproductive rights


Assisted suicide

Birth control



Search any of these in combination with terms like: ethics, morals, religious aspects, and so on

Controversy regarding science standards in Kansas Schools


Science education

Kansas State Board of Education

Evolution, intelligent design, creation

Public schools


Evolution (Biology) AND Study and teaching AND Kansas

Intelligent design (Teleology) AND Study and teaching

Creationism AND Study and teaching AND Kansas

Scopes Monkey Trail

Scopes Trial

Butler Act





Scopes, John Thomas AND Trials, litigation, etc.

American Civil Liberties Union

Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925

Darrow, Clarence, 1857-1938

Evolution AND Study and teaching


Genetically modified organism



Genetic engineering


Transgenic organisms

Genetically modified foods

Food AND Biotechnology

Plant genetic engineering

CRISPR (Genetics)

Again, you will want to search these terms with: ethics, morals, religious aspects and so on

If you're really not sure where to start, begin by doing keyword searches, making careful note of subject headings and other phrases and keywords in book and article records.

Once you see a subject heading that you think would be useful to use as a basis or central idea for searching, click on that subject heading on the record.  This will redo your search and pull up only items that have that subject heading as the central theme for the book or article, rather than just as a secondary or incidental idea.  You can then use keywords to refine your search.