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English 2010: Research Help

English 2010 (Intermediate Research Writing) is the "Research Paper" class at Snow College.

Step 1: Choosing and Focusing a Topic

Step 1 in the research cycle is to select and focus your topic. This video discusses how to choose and narrow your topic into a manageable, focused research question.

Step 1 in the research cycle is to select and focus your topic. This video discusses how to choose and narrow your topic into a manageable, focused research question.

If required, be sure to get your topic approved by your instructor. 

For help with topic selection, consider using the databases below.

Research Help Tutorials

Step 2: Brainstorm What You Already Know

Before you jump into finding information on your topic, consider what you already know about your topic. Use the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, and why of the topic.).

Step 3: Background Research

Background research is a helpful step that can give you more information about a topic before you decide on your final research question. Using basic reference sources, like SIRS Researcher, Credo Reference, Opposing Viewpoints in Context and even Wikipedia will help you learn what others are discussing about your topic. You should also take note of relevant keywords that relate to your topic in your background searching.

Step 4: Narrow Your Topic Using Keywords

Once you have an idea of your topic and you have done some basic background research, you are ready to narrow your topic and prepare for library research. One technique that helps with narrowing a topic is to identify keywords. When you did your background search, you probably started to see words that were specific to your topic. You can start by using some of these keywords or adding your own.  Below is an example of the process:

  1. Broad Topic: Space travel
  2. Keywords from background search: living in space, space station, Mars exploration, landing on the moon, Space X, etc.
  3. Research idea: How did landing on the Moon launch further space exploration?
  4. Narrowing my idea: In what ways did landing on the Moon help move space exploration forward for the United States?

You are now ready to begin looking for specific information in the library databases on your focused topic using keywords from the narrow question in #4 above. The keywords and phrases could be "landing on the moon", space exploration in the United States, future space exploration.

Remember that it is common to modify your topic during the research process.

Step 5: Use Library Databases to find Peer-Reviewed Articles

This step will be repeated often as you conduct preliminary research, gather background information and find information to support your topic. It is best to begin using multi-disciplinary databases, then, move to more focused subject databases, when needed. 

  • For a list of databases that have articles and streaming videos for English 2010 students, visit the find articles page in this guide.
  • For help with finding print and electronic books, visit the find books page.