Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENGL 105 (Prof. Lau) Fall 2021

Research Process

Developing a topic

Focus and Aspects

Consider aspects (angles, facets) of your topic:

  • social or sociological aspects (e.g. gender, ethnicity, age; family; neighborhood)
  • socio-economic (e.g. income; class; occupation/educational level)
  • psychological (e.g. motivation, perception, stereotypes, habits, stress)
  • legal aspects
  • historical aspects
  • geography (e.g. United States? California? Developed countries? The West?)

Finding search terms

1. Develop a clear research question:

For example, a  research question might look like this:

How has Asia reformed their educational system and what can Americans learn from it?

2. Break down your research question into keywords or important concepts

Keywords: i.  Educational reform;   ii. Asia,   iii. America

3. Brainstorm synonyms for your keywords or important concepts

Synonyms: i. School reform;   ii. China or Japan,   iii. United States

Search Smarter Not Harder!

Here ia a little recap of using Boolean Search Operators: AND, OR, NOT Logical Operators

You can use the following logical operators (also known as Booleans) in your searches:

  • Use AND to find all of your search terms

  • Use OR to find one, some, or all of your search terms

  • Use NOT before a term that you want to exclude

Some prefer to capitalize the logical operators, but this is not required.

Sample searches

     children and travel finds documents that contain both terms, children and travel anywhere within the searched text.

     postmortem or autopsy finds documents that contain either postmortem or autopsy or both. At least one of your terms must be present. OR is good to use when searching for variant spellings or synonymous terms.

     "benjamin franklin" not bache finds documents that contain the term Benjamin Franklin, but that do not contain the term Bache. This would include documents that mention Benjamin Franklin, but not his great-grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache.

How to search for andornot as words

When your search term includes andor, or not as words rather than logical operators, enclose your search terms in double quotation marks. For example: "black and white photographs"

What is a scholarly article?