Skip to Main Content

Colonialism in Africa: Getting Started with Search Strategies

The Research Process

Use the resources on this page to begin the research process. In the other blue tabs at the top you will find resources to use as evidence in your paper, as well as instructions for putting together an outline. As you research, please reach out to me with questions. 


Keyword Searching Tips

Defining Keywords 

Before you begin searching, you should make a list of KEYWORDS- terms that will be used in the search box of the databases or news outlet websites. Many times, you will need to perform multiple searches and use multiple keywords to result in a variety of sources. Remember, the more sources the better! Complete the activities below. 

Part I. Create a Brainstorming Map to develop a list of keywords

Using a piece of paper or a website like, create a map of key terms related to your topic. 

Example Map: 


Part 2: Develop synonyms/related terms list for your keywords

You might need to expand on some terms in order to search for your topic and find a variety of resources. 

Example Synonyms/Related Terms and Phrases Chart

Term in Map Above Alternate Term or Phrase
Boer War South African War
Conversion to Christianity Christianize/Evangelize/Convert
Enslaved people for economic gain Slavery and Agriculture/South African Slavery

Understanding Types of Sources

Searching Tips

Make sure that you understand what types of sources are out there before you begin searching!

Type of Source Description Tips
  • Include encyclopedias, general nonfiction, etc.
  • Very well-researched and trustworthy, as they have gone through an extensive editorial process
  • Some eBooks, such as Gale eBooks and those in the EBSCOhost database, can be accessed by multiple people at once.
  • Make note of the publication date- some can be outdated!
  • Variety of newspaper articles primary sources, maps, etc. from numerous sources
  • GALE World History, JSTOR, are databases
  • EBSCOhost is a hosting site for databases that focus on a variety of material types. Read the descriptions of each database in the hosting site to find out the types of materials available


  • Always use advanced search
  • Try many different searches and use different keywords
Journal Articles
  • Article written by an expert in the field
  • Takes a long time to publish, might not be as up-to-date with information as a newspaper article
  • Both JSTOR and Ebscohost can be used to locate journal articles
  • Must assess bias of the author
  • Can be long, so use the "search within" or CTRL F feature to search for specific keywords in the article
Newspaper Articles
  • Current and up-to-date information on a variety of topics
  • Must assess the bias of the author
  • Can be hard to differentiate between editorials and regular news articles