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English 102: College Writing and Research

Library help and tips for English 102

Websites/News to Browse for Ideas

It can be hard to figure out exactly what you want to research or how to find a more specific area of interest. This page has some suggestions to help you accomplish those tasks. 

When you're brainstorming or search - think about - what snagged your attention? What made you go, "oh that's interesting, I want to know more" and ask yourself "what else do I want to know about?" and go from there.

Follow your curiosity. 


  • Browse wikipedia (yes!) 
  • Skim news articles from NPR, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, PBS, BBC, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Why use these sites? 

  • Check out the hyperlinks or cited references 
  • Look for keywords or search terms 
  • Gain background information 
  • Learn key components of topic 

Databases to Browse for Ideas

CQ Researcher - in the top navigation bar are two drop down menus that will help you quickly explore research pathways

  • Browse Topics - general research areas and can narrow in further on subtopics within that area
  • Browse Reports --> Issue Tracker - provides list of various issues covered by database to review 

Gale - Opposing Viewpoints - has one large list of topics to explore 

  • "Browse Issues" with a lightbulb icon on the right side underneath the picture banner

Search Tips

Once you decide on a general research path and you start searching - are you finding too many results? There are several ways to focus in. 

  • Narrower Focus
  • Filters
  • Subject-Specific Databases

Narrower Focus

Do a broad search and skim the first two pages - is there something more focused that interests you? Try adding it to your search

In Search@UW - 

If I searched (zoos) -  I get over 150,000 results!

If I searched (zoos AND animal welfare) -- now there are over 3000 results

If I searched (zoos AND animal welfare AND tourism) - there are less than a 100 results now! 


Typically databases will have a filters like

  • specific source type (new articles, videos, scholarly articles, books) 
  • date range 
  • topic (this is really great in Search@UW!) 

Subject-Specific Databases

Search@UW is great for a broad search to find a lot of resources in one place but can be overwhelming. Instead, try searching in a subject specific database which will contain fewer materials but are directly related to a specific subject

For example, if I searched Environment Complete with my zoo and animal welfare topic 

If I searched (zoos) -  I got over 8,000 results -- that's much smaller than the 150,000 from Search@UW! 

If I searched (zoos AND animal welfare) -- 300+ results

If I searched (zoos AND animal welfare AND tourism) - less than 10 results (this might be too small now!)