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English 102: College Writing and Research

Library help and tips for English 102

Your Research Journey

Welcome as you begin your research journey! 

These resources will help you think about how to organize your thoughts for searching, how to search in web engines, and more resources on understanding various parts of rhetoric. 

Organize What You Know

Watch the three videos: 1.Mind-mapping to Plan Your Research 2. PREsearch Before you REsearch, and 3. Brainstorming Keywords. Use the arrow commands below the media player to move on to the next video.

How to Find a Research Focus

Need help generating ideas for a research focus? 

  • Browse Encyclopedia of Milwaukee or Wikipedia (yes!) 
  • Skim news articles for ideas about trending topics/ideas 
    • Check out local outlets like WPR, WUWM, Urban Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Record
    • Check out national outlets like NPR, PBS, AP News, Reuters, The Atlantic, BBC 
  • Use library databases like CQ Researcher or Gale - Opposing Viewpoints 

How to Find a Research Focus in Library Databases

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

Narrowing in Research Focus

Great! You have an research focus but it is too broad. How do you narrow in or find a more specific aspect to research?

Think about:

  • What snagged your attention in the first place?
  • What made you go, "oh that's interesting, I want to know more"
  • Ask yourself "what else do I want to know about?" 

Follow your curiosity. 

Search Strategies to Narrow Results

Search Strategies to Narrow Results 

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. 

  • Search Strings - using AND in databases
  • Filters
  • Subject-Specific Databases

Search Strings - using AND in databases

Do a broad search and skim the first two pages - is there something more focused that interests you? Add 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! 

Add additional concepts to get to a smaller pool of relevant results


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 the database, 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!)