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ENGL 101 - English Composition I - McGuire

Choose Your Topic

Developing Your Search Terms

  1. If you don't know what topic to choose, start with a general subject area in databases to do some background reading.

  2. Select a topic.
    Example: Asthma

  3. What do you already know about the topic? What do you want to say about the topic?
    Example: Asthma is a respiratory condition. It can be life-threatening. People with asthma usually require treatment to control their symptoms. People with asthma often limit their activity.

  4. What aspect of your topic do you want to discuss? What do you want to know about this topic?
    Example: A person with asthma can safely participate in sports. OR  Is it safe for people with asthma to participate in sports?

  5. Select your search terms from your statement sentence.
    Example: It can be healthy and safe for people with asthma to participate in sports.

  6. Select your search terms. Think of related keywords and variations to use as search terms. 



    health (y)

    safe (ty)





  7. Use these words in search boxes in the databases, library catalog, and on the Internet to gather information.

What is a background database?

A background database is a database which gives you background information on a topic. Background information can include the history of a topic, the current issue involved, people connected with the topic,

What do background databases have in common?

  • They give you background information
  • They provide evaluated websites
  • They provide links to articles and books
  • They include pro/con debates
  • They include current news stories

What do background databases have in common with other databases?

  • Background databases may search by keyword or subject
  • Background databases can have a basic screen and an advanced screen

Controversial Issues Databases

Opposing Viewpoints

Opposing Viewpoints

Topic overviews, contrasting viewpoints, articles, primary source documents, statistics, videos, and recommended websites.

CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher

Analytical reports on controversial issues from 1991 to the present. Includes background, chronology, tables and maps, and pro/con statements.

Broad and Narrow Searching