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ENGL 114A: Approaches to University Writing

Choosing a Research Topic

Brainstorming Search Terms

Brainstorming search terms can help you modify your search strategy and paper topic. Here are the steps:

1. Write down your topic and identify the key (or most important) terms. 

Example: How does family support impact academic success for trans students?

2. For each term, write down synonyms, related ideas, broader terms, and narrower terms. For example:

Family support > social support, parental support, family relationships

Academic success > scholastic success, graduation, grade point average

Trans  > transgender, LGBTQ, nonbinary

Students > high school students, young people, adolescents

3. Try out different combinations of the key terms, adjusting as needed. If you have too many search results, try using more specific terms ("high school students" instead of "students"). If you have too few results, use broader search terms, or try searching for some of the related terms that you identified above.

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