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English 101 & 102

A guide to resources and tools for English 101 students.

Finding Topic Ideas

Choosing a topic might be easy, but narrowing a topic down to find resources for your project can be a lot harder. Use these databases to explore broad topic ideas, and to see what people are thinking and saying.  Test and experiment with keyword searches (using recommended databases) to generate more specific or targeted keywords that can be used to narrow your search.

Prewriting General Questions

To narrow your topic, answer the following questions about your research:

  • What are the facts about your topic? What previous research has been done on this topic? Answer the 5Ws about this topic:  Who, What, When, Where, Why. write down keywords associated with the answers to the 5Ws.
  • Can you describe and define your topic?  How does it affect people, groups, the world?  Again, write down keywords that help define or describe your topic.
  • How serious a problem is this topic?  If ignored, what are the implications or outcomes?
  • What can be done to address this topic? What work has already been done to address it?
  • Are there opposing viewpoints? What are they? What keywords describe the opposing viewpoint?

The answers to these questions will give you search terms that you can use when searching in our resources like Academic Search Elite database.  Keywords are critical to successful searching and obtaining valid results.  But like most things, practice makes perfect. Use your keywords to find other, related words. Keep building your search until you've found the best results for your topic.  Also try multiple databases, since results will differ.