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Composition I and II: ENC 1101/1102

This guide includes resources for students doing research for Composition I & II and an overview of the research process.

Generating Keywords

Use a concept map, table, or just a blank piece of paper to brainstorm synonyms, related words, and narrower/broader terms for the keywords in your topic. This will help narrow your topic and generate keywords to search.

Brainstorm Keywords


–noun 1. a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language

Before you start searching for information on your topic, do some thinking about what exactly your topic is and what different keywords might be used to describe it. Using these different terms in your searching will help you find more information that is useful for your specific topic. Use the Generating Keywords handout in the box to the left to help organize your terms as you work.


Capital Punishment

     Also try:          death penalty        lethal injection

                           death row              Innocence Protection Act

Assisted Suicide

     Also try:          euthanasia             Kevorkian

                           right-to-die            Death with Dignity Act

Narrow if Necessary

Brainstorming keywords goes hand-in-hand with narrowing your topic. More often than not, students need to narrow their topics for more effective searching and, ultimately, a better paper. Especially think about population, location, etc.


The original topic: Is using technology in education a good thing or a bad thing? 

What this means: This could include using computers, smart boards, LCD projectors, tablets and various apps, and phones; involve elementary, middle, high school, and college students; and consider practices in the United States as well as any number of countries.

Researching this topic: A quick search in a multi-subject database for "technology" and "education" brings up 162,122 articles. Whew! A few books could be written on this material. A short paper on this topic is not likely to have much focus.

New topic: Does using tablets with elementary students increase student achievement in United States classrooms?

Researching this topic: A much more manageable 34 articles are returned that are right on target. A good thesis and focus can be maintained in a short paper on this narrowed topic.

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