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ENG 101 Research and Composition C. Grimes: Find a topic

What is your topic?


A Polar Bear Enjoys Snow At San Diego Zoo. Photographer. Britannica ImageQuest. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016.. Accessed 14 Sep 2016.

Having trouble coming up with a topic? Try browsing these databases for ideas. 

Importance of Keywords

To get started with research, you will need some good keywords.  The better your keywords, the better your results will be in a database.  You are probably already familiar with using keywords when you search for information on Google. But using a library database or online catalog can be very different from searching Google, and you may need to be more selective with keywords.   


Presearch time: 

Presearch is commonly used to describe the preparation work you do before you even start doing your real research.   It's during this phase that you will determine what keywords are best to use when searching a database.  Note, you can have several different combinations of keywords and you'll find yourself identify new keywords to use as you go through the research process. 

1)  Start with your main idea or topic. Choose something general and something that you are interested in. 

2)  Background research:  Do a search online or find a Wikipedia article on your topic.  Although you shouldn't cite a Wikipedia article or rely on it as your only source, it can be a very useful tool for getting background information on your topic.  Another way would be to use a reference book or conduct a search in one of our reference databases

3) Another method for coming up with keywords is to use the search results from a database.  Most library resources like databases will include related subject terms in the record for an article, or even provide a handy list on the search result page.