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CPHS_English 11B - Essay: Find a topic

Topic Generator

Research Paper Keyword Generator

 

Marginalized group:


 

Key people/organizations involved in group’s American Dream

 

Key people/organizations/events that worked against my group’s American Dream

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Historical context for my marginalized group (events/laws that impacted them)

 

Ways they did/did not achieve the dream they were working toward

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If, for example, your topic is the invention of Apple and you have identified Steve Jobs as a key figure associated with Apple, it might be helpful to search Steve Jobs into the databases. These articles will have a different focus, but they will likely contain some of what you need. Be strategic with your searches.

Big Picture

The words that you type into a search box are the key to finding the most relevant articles and books.  That's why they're called keywords!

You'll need to choose keywords carefully.  Here's how:

First, target the major concepts from your topic.


1.  Write out a brief description (1 or 2 sentences) of your research topic.  It can be helpful to phrase it in the form of a question that you'd like to answer.

2.  Identify the most important 2 - 4 words from your research question.  These are your key concepts.

Tip:

  • To decide which words are most important, imagine that you need to tell someone your topic using no more than 4 words.  Words like "does," "the," "in," or "of" (while useful in a sentence) won't be specific enough, so you wouldn't use those.

3.  For each key concept, make a list of other words with the same or related meanings.  These will be your keywords!

Tips:

  • Use a thesaurus to find synonyms.
  • Think of specific examples or types. 
  • If your topic is something you don't know enough about yet, it can be hard to think of synonyms or examples.  Find some background information to jump-start your brainstorming!

  Look at an example:

  • Research question: "Does the use of social networking in online classes help students learn?"
     
  • Key concepts and key words:

students
learner
college student
undergraduate
 

online classes
online course
distance education

social networking
social media
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

learn
learning
success
performance
grades

  See a video.

 

Next, test and refine your keywords.


1.  Go to the Gale Database.

2.  Choose one keyword from each concept list.  Type those keywords into the search box.  Type AND between each one. Why?

Examples (from our list above):

  • students AND online classes AND social networking AND learning
  • college students AND online courses AND social media AND performance
  • learners AND online courses AND Facebook AND grades
     

3.  Click search and explore the results.  Try several of your keyword combinations, and keep a list of the keywords that fetch the most relevant articles.

  • If you get too many results, try more or narrower keywords.
  • If you get too few results, try using fewer or broader keywords.

4.  Look closely at the most relevant articles in your search results.  You may see new author-supplied keywords or database subject headings that describe your topic. Add those terms to your list.
 

5.  Create new keyword combinations from your refined list of terms, and test them again

Examples:

  •  undergraduates AND online courses AND social networking
  •  student engagement AND higher education AND social networking
  • learning communities AND online courses AND social networking
     

6.  Save the most relevant articles as you test your keywords...chances are, you'll find much of what you need as you go!

 

Thanks to https://apus.libanswers.com/faq/2316 for this info!