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English Composition I

This guide will help you explore your topic and find the sources you need for your out-of-class research paper assignment.

Strategic exploration

At the beginning of your research, you will want to explore resources that help you fully understand your broad topic and identify ways to narrow your topic into a good research question. Strategic exploration involves searching the internet, books, and research starter databases for background information on your topic. You can be strategic by carefully selecting websites and library resources that are reliable and provide helpful overviews of your topic, then following links and performing new searches for terms that you have been introduced to or ideas that you hadn't thought of before. 

View the first minute of this video to understand more about strategic exploration.

Research Starter databases are one type of "bucket" you can use to start strategic exploration of your topic. They are databases that include a wide variety of articles to give you a broad overview of your topic and help you understand the many different aspects of your topic. To strategically explore your topic - rather than just search haphazardly for your topic terms - you need to select an appropriate Research Starter database that will be most likely to address your topic. 

For example, a research question about the effects of the internet could be strategically explored in a database about social issues OR technology, depending on what you are most interested in. 

Research Starter databases

Research Starter databases can also be accessed from the Library's Databases page. The descriptions will help you determine which databases are most relevant for your topic. Select the database you want to explore, then once you are in the database, use the "Browse" selections to find many sources on broad topics, or use the search box to search by keyword for sources. 

STOP and answer questions 15 - 16 on the assessment.

This concludes the online tutorial.

If you have been working through the Online Assessment for Introduction to Information Literacy, click Submit on the final page until you see an option to enter your email address.

  • If you want to receive a copy of your results, enter your email address and click Continue. If not, just click Continue.
  • When you see the message, "Your assessment has been emailed to your instructor." you have completed the assessment.

The next pages on this tutorial provide information for using MLA Citation Style and will be helpful as you complete future research assignments. You can refer back to this tutorial at any time for a refresher.