Skip to Main Content

English & Comparative Literature Research Guide: Search Practice

Analyze a Topic

Analyze a Research Topic

1. What is your topic?
Any idea. Any concept. Is a good place to begin. Explore first. With words, phrases, ideas, concepts, or questions.

2. Clarity
Are the words in the topic vague or clear? What words would be more clear?

3. General/Specific
Is the topic too general? What words/concepts would be more specific?

4. Broad/Narrow
Is your topic too broad?
How can you narrow down your topic so it is more focused?

5. Break down complex topics
If your topic is complex and convoluted, break down the topic into several smaller topic areas.

Explore Context & Relationships

Explore Contexts and Relationships

1. Are there related topics, concepts, theories, history, movements, authors, and etc.  that you need to research?

2. What is the context of your topic: historical, cultural, political, religious, socioeconomic, psychological, geopolitical, and/or global?

3. What database(s) would be most appropriate for your research?

The Research Process

 Document the Research Process

1. How would you describe your research or writing process?
2. What did you learn in the research process?
3. What new concepts or ideas did you discover? Add them to your notes.
4. What new questions do you have now? How would you approach them?

Create Search Statements

Be elastic & be specific. Both are necessary. Research is a fluid, creative and elastic process.

For example, you can narrow down your topic when it is too broad or when you find too much information.
You can expand, refine, or revise your search words to make your search more precise.

You can use connectors such as AND, OR, NOT, and techniques such as *-- the wildcard or truncation mark, and/or double quotes " " to refine your search.

Try using the techniques above & create search statements that capture your research interests.





Discussion Questions

Thanks to all who have contributed to the Questions in the survey. You are welcome to ask in the classroom if you have not. 


Search Strategy/Techniques

1I hope to come away with more techniques on how to be more effective in searching for useful material to utilize in my writing.

2. hope I can take away how to narrow my search without going too specific that some key articles or ideas are thrown out of the search results.

3. A better understanding of how to utilize the tools I have to achieve better success.

4. What is something a success student does when researching?

5. What tools do you find most valuable when you conduct your own research?

6. What is something you wish more students did?

Where to Search/Track Research Publications

1. Easiest ways to keep up with newly published research on a certain topic, author, or work? Is it possible to set notifications within databases?

2. what is challenging about research: navigating which databases are best for a project, sorting through sources when many seem fitting, finding sources for lesser known works.

3. Which online resource is used the most with English students?

4.  I hope to be more familiar with the different databases and take away inspiration for research in future projects!

A better understanding of how I should look for articles and organize them. (see also Organizing Sources)

6. I have had trouble accessing physical items, such as literary journals on ebsco if I don't have access online.

A better understanding of how to find research material both in the physical library, and how the library can gain access to physical material at other campuses.


The Research Process
1. I find it challenging to stop doing research, to feel satisfied with what I have for a paper; often feel like I'm missing something. It becomes extremely time consuming.

2. What I find challenging is the slow process research can be. I hope to learn tips that'll speed up the research process thoroughly while still finding sources that'll closely match my research interests.

3. How do you know when you have done enough research or read enough articles to be able to participate in the conversation at hand?

4. Reading all of the papers that don't have abstracts! -- what you hope to take away from the research workshop-- Time-effective shortcuts.


Analyzing Sources

1. Knowing how to choose the right articles out of the possible hundreds that pop up for a given theme/idea


Taking Notes
1. I find it challenging trying to gauge how much information I need to note down from other sources and in what level of detail. I tend to note down entire paragraphs for fear of missing any detail, which makes for more work trying to sort it out later. I'd appreciate tips on how to be more efficient in this area.


Organizing Sources

1. Tips in organizing research when working with dozens of articles

2.  I tend to get a little overwhelmed when I find good articles. What happens when I have too much of a good thing? Are there any organizational strategies I should know about?

3. How best to utilize endnote
3. A better understanding of how I should look for articles and organize them. (see also Search/Track Research)