F&M College Library

IST 489: Global Migration

Developing a Search Strategy

Using your core text-- The Age of Migration - as your professor suggested is a great way to read and learn how scholars talk about your topic. That is one way to develop keywords for searching. Brainstorming and testing and tweaking are other ways. Use terms from the relevant articles, books, and reports that you cited in your preliminary bibliography and use the works cited from those articles and books. Use suggested keywords sometimes found in articles. All of these methods have also been suggested by your professor.

Brainstorming Example


What is the topic? What are some related subtopics?


migration from Syria to Italy


Who are the stakeholders involved in this issue?


Syrian refugees/migrants, Italians, governments, politicians, economy


How are the stakeholders involved?

How does this topic impact society, politics, etc.?

humanitarian and health needs; fear; jobs; threats; terrorism; political favor; religion





Why does this topic matter?

humanitarian crisis; security; social & cultural integration; religious freedom



Common Keywords

ethnicity and race (these terms are not interchangeable)

state and nation (these terms are also not interchangeable!)


gendered racism




Test Your Topic Using your Brainstorming Keywords

Cast a wide net. Remember to use AND, OR & NOT between your search terms to broaden, narrow or exclude results.

"Syrian refugees" AND Italy if you're not sure what you want to focus on. If you have a particular focus-

"Syrian refugees" AND Italy AND religion NOT Christian

"Syrian refugees" OR "Syrian migrants" AND Italy 

When researching topics that involve the United States, in order to focus on the other country involved, perhaps using NOT "United States" would be useful. 

Subject Terms

Use Subject Terms (assigned by the Library of Congress) to find like items in the library catalog and in journal databases. If you find a useful book or article, its catalog record usually will include Subject Terms that you can use to find related research material. Below is a screenshot of a catalog record with subject hyperlinks. Click on the links to find related material.