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Research Guides

English Composition Guide

A supplement to library instruction sessions for EN 1113 (English Composition II), EN 1113H (Honors English Composition II), and EN 1173 (Accelerated Composition II).

Search Strategies

Some topics are easier to write a 5-6 page paper about than others. How do you take a big topic and get down to a narrow research question or thesis statement?

  1. Start big, get smaller.
    • Begin with your general area. What interests you about it? What more do you want to know? How much information is out there?
    • As you explore, you'll see some ideas stand out more than others.
    • What are some other words or terminology to describe it?
  2. Use Boolean Operators to broaden or narrow your search.
    • Use "AND" to connect terms (search results must have both/all the words).
    • Use "OR" to find either/or, and to find alternative terms/synonyms.
    • Use "NOT" to exclude a term from search.
  3. Use Limiters to Refine Results.
    • Scholarly/Peer Review: only brings up results that are from designated scholarly/peer reviewed journals.
    • Subject: Narrow results based on how articles are indexed.
      • Sometimes a similar topic has multiple subjects (social media, online social network).
      • You can also browse subjects to brainstorm searches and alternative terms.
    • Content Provider: In an EBSCO Discovery Search, will tell you number of results from individual databases.