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ENG 101 - Academic Writing I: Critical Reading and Responding

Choosing a Topic

The simple step of researching a topic can often make the entire process much easier. This can be done if you follow these steps.

  1. Make certain to select a topic that interests you (librarians can help with this!).
  2. Read some background information on your topic.

After you have a well-formed topic, you should:

  1. Create a research question.
  2. Do a test search on your topic, to see what is out there.
  3. Broaden or narrow your topic as necessary.

When you are doing background research on your topic, you want to consult reference sources. These can be encyclopedias found in the library or online; and yes, in this preliminary phase of research you can use Wikipedia. Never cite Wikipedia in an academic paper, but if you are deciding if a topic interests you, go for it. Just remember that Wikipedia is not consistent and while one entry might be accurate another one may not be.

Choose a Topic That Interests You

Browsing CQ Researcher can help you decide on a topic by giving you a jumping off point.

Concept mapping

When beginning your research it is helpful to begin by thinking about how you will proceed with your research.

What are going to be your keywords for searching?  Are there alternative words that you might need to use?

One way to visualize your research is to create a concept map (or mind map).  This might help you see the big picture of your research and where you may be able to go with your research.

Concept mapping Tools

Coggle: Coggle is a completely free, simple to use mind mapping tool that's easy to get started with. Sign in with a Google account of your choice and you're off and away. Double-click on any item to edit it, and click the plus signs on either side to add branches to your mind map. Click and hold to drag them around the canvas to design your mind map any way you like. Coggle will automatically assign different colors to your branches, but clicking on a branch will bring up a color wheel so you can personalize it yourself. When you've finished a map, you can download it as a PDF or PNG, share it with others who can just view it or, if you allow it, edit your mind map. It allows its users to create concept maps in such an easy way with the minimum tools possible .You can create your project and invite your colleagues to join you in editing its content and when done you can share it with others via a generated link.

Mind42: This is a browser-based online mind mapping application that allows you to keep track of all your ideas and create easy mind maps .It does not require any download or installation software , just log to your browser and launch the application.