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ENGL 1301 NE: Create a plan

This guide to library resources will help you accomplish the research that you will need to do in a Composition I class

Brainstorm keywords

Brainstorm keywords that represent the main concept(s) of your topic.  Think about what words you would want to see in an article that may indicate it would be useful for your research.

Topic: credit card debt among American college students
Key concepts: credit card debt American college students
Related keywords: personal finance United States undergrad
  consumer debt USA young adults


Need more help?  Try the Keyword Generator from California State University, Fullerton.  It walks you through the process of finding keywords relevant to your topic.

Develop a search strategy

Combine the keywords you brainstormed into a search strategy.  Put phrases in quotation marks and/or use AND, OR, NOT (Boolean operators) to get more precise results.

Broad Search

Search for information using the single most important term related to your topic.

Narrow Search

Search for information by combining keywords you brainstormed.

Too many irrelevant results? 

Add more keywords.

Too few relevant results? 

Remove or change keywords     


Adapted from: UT Arlington Library

Types of Sources

Good research usually involves using a variety of information sources.

  • Reference Books include detailed overviews and general information on a topic.
  • Circulating Books contain more in-depth information on a subject.
  • Periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) provide the most recent information on a subject matter.