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PSC 401/501: Public Administration: Example Topic / Search Term Generation

Example Topic / Search Term Generation

Example research question: “What bureaucratic obstacles do veterans face when applying for VA benefits?"

Keep closely related ideas together in one row (e.g., veterans and VA). Use different combinations of keywords and related terms to find additional information. Try to use one term from each row to avoid leaving out relevant concepts.

This process can also help you narrow down to a more specific topic before you begin writing your paper.


Related terms (synonyms, more general, or more specific)


application, claims process, wait time, disability percentage, pay rates


VA, Veterans Affairs, retired military, retired servicemen, retired service members, 


disability, compensation, health benefits, medical benefits, mental health services, education benefits, pension program, GI Bill, ...(really, you could go on forever, depending on the specific focus of your paper)

Keep in mind you will likely have to do multiple searches with slightly different topic sentences. No single topic sentence will provide you with enough information for your project.

Identifying Keywords and Search Terms