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ENG 110 (Dr. King)  

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Expected Outcomes

Goals for these two sessions are:

  • Understand and be able to explain the difference between search engines and databases --- how does Google/Scholar differ from proprietary databases. 
  • Understand and explain how information is processed from event through periods of time: the information cycle.
  • Understand how to evaluate "fake news" vs credible, authoritative sources.
  • Utilize/hands-on exploration of the academic sources that achieve the best results for this class assignment: Academic Search Premier (general database) and other specialized databases. Where to search.
  • Introduction and practice: Boolean and Subject Searching.   How to search using Boolean and subject searching.
  • Introduction to tips for finding precise, relevant academic articles.

Visualizing Your Process

The major components fit into the process outlined below, which indicates that the process is not linear. You may find a few sources and interpret them, only to develop new questions which lead to other sources, etc. 

Inquiry Process graphic

Original image location.

How Do I Choose a Good Research Topic?

Aspects of choosing a good topic: 

1. Does your topic meet the requrements of the assignment? How is your topic a global issue?

Deciding on a topic that fits the criteria of the assignment is quite simple. One easy way is to scan news sites for current topics that are of interest to you. Google News, New York Times, CNN or NPR are good for browsing current topics. Make sure that your topic has a decidely global perspective. If the topic has been in the news recently you are assured that there will be ample resources. Here are some links to reputable news sources:


New York Times


Google News

You may also wish to note the list of news databases and links found under "Finding Articles." 

2. Your topic should be something you care about or is interesting to you. You are voicing a contribution to the conversation about this issue. Your voice matters so it should be something that is meaningful to you.

3. Ask yourself: Is the topic too broad? too narrow? Consider the specific focus or scope of a broader topic. If your topic is "steroids or performance enhancing drugs in sports"  how that might be a global issue. A narrowed topic might be: How might punishments or sanctions that are currently in place for Olympic athletes be improved to reduce steroid use?  If the topic is "social media and business" you might ask what kind of social media? What kind of business or industry? Marketing? Sales? What time period? What countries? What population-teens, young adults? 

4. If you don't know much about a topic, reconsider your choice or revise the perspective to cover an angle that is searchable and know-able. For example:  If your initial question is: What changes in Muslim lifestyles occurred after 9/11?  Islam is not monolithic. There are variables within the culture and religion. Consider what specific Muslim lifestyle are you searching? Sunni? Shia? Wahabi? Narrowed to a particular country? Are you conversant enough in Muslim lifestyle to give an accurate assessment of this question? An alteration of this topic might be: What are perceptions of Muslims by Americans in the past 10 years, post 9/11?  OR What are results of dialogues between Christians and Muslims post 9/11?

Background research will help you develop your topic and focus in more appropriate ways. Though this seems like extra work, it is actually a vital, time-saving step. Knowing more about your topic's background can only help you develop a more effective topic, and therefore, research paper. See the tab under Reference Resources.


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