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ENGL 1001: Written Expression

Introduction & Materials

This page describes a strategy for generating keywords before you start to search and provides links to recommended sources for locating background information on a topic.

Below is a link to a Microsoft Office document that you should complete as you start to identify a line of inquiry for your research. We recommend that you print it out fill it in by hand so that you can easily bring it to your library session.

Developing Ideas & Keywords

One of the hardest tasks when starting research in a new area is identifying what the major issues and concepts that can provide you with an important frame of reference. Before you start looking for in-depth information we suggest that you do the following:

  • Think about what you already know about the issue
  • Think about what you want to know more about
  • Learn more about what issues are being discussed related to your area of inquiry

Once you have identified important concepts translate them into keywords or short phrases so that you can start to search. As you conduct your research you will be able to identify additional and more specific search terms.

As you start searching select one term or phrase from Column A and one term or phrase from Column B. Run additional searches with alternate terms from each column.

Sample Question: I want to learn more about the environmental factors associated with wind turbines.

Sample Chart of Concepts & Keywords

Concept A

Environmental Factors

Concept B

Wind Turbines

Concept C

(Use as Needed)

Starting Search Terms & Phrases and Alternates

"environmental factors"

"environmental effects"

"environmental impact"

"wind turbines"

"wind power"

"wind generators"

"wind farms"



More Specific Terms & Phrases Related to Each Concept





"United States:

"New England"



Helpful Resources