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ENGL 102: Composition II, Desiree Simons

Research guide for Desiree Simons' English 102 course.

Example of Search Term Brainstorming

Tip: Spend a few minutes writing a description of your topic, why you're interested in it, and what you already know about it. Then start underlining words that you could use to search for your topic, and brainstorm additional related search terms. Keep adding to this list as you research and learn more.

In the image below, previous ENGL 102 students brainstormed search terms related to the example topic, "Where have all the Black Farmers gone?" They considered synonyms, specific populations/people, regions/location, sub-topics or related topics.

screenshot of shared slide where students have brainstormed keywords related to "black farmers"



Keywords and Subject Headings

As you generate search terms, it will be helpful to prepare a list that includes keywords (important words or phrases) and subject headings (which are like pre-assigned tags for articles). You can find inspiration for keywords within the text of an article, book, etc. You can find examples of subject headings while browsing search results in a periodical database. 

Keywords are important words or phrases within text. Subject headings are specific vocabulary assigned by database indexers.

Search Terms - Video Tutorials

These short video tutorials provide strategies for generating search terms, broadening & narrowing search terms, and using search terms together for advanced searching.

Need more help?

Need more help brainstorming search terms? Librarians are ready to help! See the Ask the Library page for ways to contact a librarian.