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English: EN101 Library Orientation: 3. Topic Selection

Part 1a: Topic Research - Be Creative and Flexible!

Effective information searches are usually a group of searches.  No keyword search combination is the "correct" one; all relevant key word search combinations can contribute to your project.  Be flexible and creative.  Add to your list of  keywords as you explore several databases and search tools.


Topic:  Early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders

Beginning searches:       autism spectrum               early intervention and children                 

More Specific:         early intervention and autism spectrum and children     early intervention and autism and effectiveness        autism spectrum and preschoolers

Broader:       autism                special education                learning disabilities   


Topic:  Polar Vortex:  How often has the US Midwest experienced such cold temperatures related to the Polar Vortex?

Beginning searches:  polar vortex AND Midwest

More Specific:  polar vortex AND Ohio; polar vortex AND history AND United States; Northern Hemisphere Stratospheric Polar Vortex AND Midwest [term obtained from a previous search];  tropospheric circulation AND United States and history; arctic polar vortex AND Midwest

Broader:  meteorology; winds AND weather; freezing air AND North Pole; freezing air AND Northern Hemisphere


For any class project that requires information gathering, begin to grow your search term list.   Apply your list to a variety of library catalogs, article/resource databases, and other search tools.

My Topic: _______________________________________________

Beginning search terms for my topic: ______________________________________________________________

Other more specific keywords, phrases, and word combinations: ________________________________________


Broader ways to search my topic:  relevant fields, keywords, phrases, and word combinations: _________________


Part 1b: Topic Selection - Major Key to Success!


  • Download and save the .pdf document linked above. 
  • Review the process steps toward selecting and shaping your topic. 

Tip: A bit of time spent shaping/narrowing your topic will pay big dividends. You will work with a more manageable and appealing topic in a clear research path. Your focused topic will have more appeal to your readers.

 What to do?  Please download the .pdf document and save/read or print/read for understanding.

Part 1c: Sample Research Topics - Need Narrowing

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