ENGL 101 English Composition 1 (Moore)

This research guide is for student in Julie Moore's English 101

Strategize your Research

Research Overview

Turning your Personal Narrative into an annotated bibliography and essay takes research strategies!

Start with this video for an overview of the research process.

Then move to Step 2: Strategize your Keywords and Step 3: Strategize your Information Sources.

Source: "How Library Stuff Works: Searching as Strategic Exploration" by McMaster Libraries, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to develop a research strategy in order to utilize a wide variety of information sources.

Start with Keywords

Turn your personal narrative into a broader research topic. 

Keyword Strategies

For any research project, big or small, we identify the key ideas, issues, names, etc. we want to learn about. Those key ideas become the keywords we use as search terms to find relevant information in library and online research tools. 

For your annotated bibliography and final essay, you will turn key ideas from your personal narrative into the keywords for your research. And then you will look for additional keywords for your topic once you start to do research. 

Strategy 1: 

Identify the key concepts you explored in your personal narrative that you will now do some research on. 

  • Example 1: I'm interested in the topic of gendered language and if female-identified people use language differently than male-identified people. I'm curious if that impacts their success at work or school. 
    • Possible keywords for this starting topic. 
      • women, female, female-identified. gender, men, feminine, gender differences 
      • language, "speaking patterns," "speech patterns" communication
      • work, employment, workplace, education, school, classroom
  • Example 2: I wrote about growing up in a bilingual home where my parents mostly spoke Russian, but I spoke a mix of English and Russian depending on where I was.
    • Possible keywords:
      • bilingual, multilingual, "native language," code-switching AND immigrants
      • immigrants, "first-generation immigrants," identity, "generational differences"

Strategy 2:

Browse for other useful keywords on your subject in GVRL, the Holman Library Academic Reference collection. This collection serves the same purpose as Wikipedia, but it is a more reliable source.

  • Type in a starting keyword or keyword phrase and review titles and the subjects list (on the right of your results) to find other useful keywords (and ideas!).

Strategy 3:

Browse for topic ideas in library research tools

  • Type your starting keyword(s) into the library's One Search. Look over titles to get a sense of what researchers and journalists are writing about. 
    • Example 1: I typed in multilingual.
      • Some of the ideas journalists and researchers are writing about: challenging monolingualism, education, language learning, age and language learning, connecting schools to home, multilingual societies, and much more. 

Type your starting keyword(s) into the One Search below and look over titles for ideas and words for your topic.

Watch Me! 

Source: "Research 101: Searching is Strategic" by Anna Eisen, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to be tenacious and flexible in searching for the best information from a variety of sources.

Information Types

Why are there pages in this research guide for reference, news, books, and scholarship? Because information is created for different purposes and audiences, and the kind of source matters. 

Watch this video for an overview of why format matters. 

Source: "Types of Information Sources" by Research 101, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to identify various information sources including news periodicals, trade publications, academic papers, and conference proceedings

Using Keywords in Databases

Connect your key ideas with Boolean operators and use the limiters in library databases to craft an effective search.

  • Use AND to connect AND focus your key ideas. AND reduces the number of sources you get, but you find more relevant sources.
    • Ex: "gender differences" AND communication 
  • Use OR for synonyms, similar ideas, or two sides of a coin.
    • Ex: women OR female OR female-identified OR gender
  • Place phrases in quotation marks.
    • Ex: "gender differences"
  • Use NOT to exclude results.
  • Use truncation ( the asterix with shift 8: * ) to search for multiple forms of a root word.
    • Ex: communicat* = communication OR communcate

Computers are literal, so keep it simple. Use single keywords or simple keyword phrases rather than complex phrases the database will try to match.

If a keyword doesn't work, think about other ways to express that idea and search again.

Databases are Discovery Tools

Look for ways to set a date limit, limit to full text sources, find Subject Terms, and limit to a specific information source type in library databases.

Sample search in One Search: (click on image to enlarge)

One Search example

Watch this video on using Boolean Operators and other tricks and tips of databases.

Source: "Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies" by Sarah Clark, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to use Booleans, truncation, and quotations for effective searching.

Your Assignments

Explore Topic Ideas

Your writing assignments this quarter step you into current "conversations" about language.

You started by writing a personal narrative that explored your connection to the class theme of 3rd languages. 

Now you are asked to step back from your own story and "situate" your story within a broader researched area of study and conversation.

This page offers strategies on how to look for those broader conversations and find the ideas you might want to write about.

Possible Topics

(though you may get another topic approved by your instructor)

Multilingual, Bilingual, Language and Identity, World English, Language Learning/Instruction, Class and Language, Language and Immigration, Language and Race, Language and Colonialism and/or Imperialism, Language and Discrimination, Non-Standard and Vernacular Englishes, Language and Power, Mixed English or “Broken English,” White Talk, Language Brokering, Language and Technology (blogs, social networking, social media, netspeak, Etc.), Language and Gender, Language Attitudes, Language Varieties, Code Meshing, Code Switching.