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ENGL 101

Getting Started with Research for Writing

These  pages are designed to help student in ENGL101 through the process of researching for your writing assignments.

On this page you will find:

  • Guidance to Choose Good Keywords
  • Help with Selecting/Refining a Research Topic

The next pages will help you:

Find Encyclopedias

Find Books and Articles

Choose Your Sources

Evaluate Sources

Cite Sources 

If you need more help-  check out our Library Research Tutorials or 24/7 Live Chat

 Remember OC also offers a Writing Center through Tutoring Services

Research Smarter- Choose Good Keywords


notebook, pen and glasses beside a laptop computer 

Selecting/Refining a Research Topic

Ways to select your topic:

Brainstorming: Write down as many ideas for your assignment as you can- look through your textbook or other sources for ideas.

Current event survey: Check a couple reputable open web sources, such as AllSides or ProCon. You can also look through OC news resources for topics of interest suitable for your assignment.

Check library resources: Use CQ Researcher to browse current topics suitable for your assignment.


Ways to refine your topic:

Free associate: Write down ideas that come to you. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation at this point. If you are better at speaking than writing, try recording your ideas. You could sketch a drawing to capture any ideas you have about your topic.

Clustering/Mind mapping: Write your main idea in the center of a page, then write information about that idea around the topic. Draw lines to connect the ideas that belong together to help you refine your topic (example video).

Browse sources: Do a keyword search in the library catalog or article databases like Academic Search Complete to see how others have treated the topic, then browse those sources for ideas.