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English Composition: Home

A quick overview of the research process for students who are new to using the library.

Welcome to Auraria Library!This research guide is designed to help students completing their English Composition courses. It has some suggestions on getting started with a topic, finding information that will help you learn more about that topic, and how to put that information to use in your course assignments.

All of this is just meant to be an introduction, however. If you have any questions at all about using the library or finding research to help you with your paper, Ask Us! Our library is here to help.

Choosing a Topic

When you're just getting started on a research project, you might need help with picking a topic. Because you are going to be reading a lot of information about it, it's helpful to select a topic you're interested in, but also one you don't know that much about. This way you're not just "writing a paper," you also have a chance to learn more about something that's important to you.

If you can't come up with any ideas, ask around. You could speak with your instructor, look at your textbook, or chat with a librarian.

Once you have a few ideas, run a basic web search and read some background information (Wikipedia is great for this sort of thing). This is your chance to see if it's something you'd like to spend your time learning more about, or if there are are some related topics that maybe are more interesting.

Picking Search Terms

Once you have a topic in mind and you've read a bit about it, start making a list of words that seem to show up a lot in what you're reading. For example, if you're researching Denver, related terms might include "Colorado," "The West," "The Front Range," and "The Rocky Mountain Region." Within the city, there are neighborhoods like "Athmar Park," "Five Points," "Barnum," and so on. And then there are also other cities in the area, like "Aurora," "Centennial," "Golden," and more. Pretty soon, you could have a list with dozens of words that are in one way or another related to your topic.

The reason it's helpful to make this list of related terms is that different kinds of information often use different words to explain the same thing. Once you start looking for more detailed information, you'll want to try different words to see who the results change.

Picking Your Topic IS Research