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Prof. Robinson-Williams - Eng 101 - Spring 2021: Research Questions

Mining for ideas and search terms

Read your inspiration article(s) and/or view TED Talks.

Read/view again. This time, make a record of any 

  • names of people,
  • names of companies,
  • programs and/or initiatives
  • laws or policies
  • key locations
  • words or short phrases related to the ideas in the article.

Notice the words, names, phrases, and ideas in the article that have potential value for further investigation.

List them. On paper or in a spreadsheet or wherever suits your study style. 

Why write/record them? Record them so you can refer to them at each stage of your research process. Leave room to add to the list. Remember the source of the ideas and terminology.

Notice if the terms - words - ideas fall into logical groupings. Label or otherwise organize them accordingly. What are the names of the groups? In the example (notecard sample to the right), there are terms that refer to consumer psychology (suggestive selling, turn customers off), business marketing techniques (suggestive selling, H2No operation), business ethics (profits vs. consumer choices), food industry (restaurants, drinks, diners) 

Why figure out the logical categories of the words and ideas? These will be useful search terms. They may lead you to the best databases for your research.

In our example, business and psychology databases are worthwhile options.

Notecard example

Notecard example showing quotation, paraphrasing, and reflection, tags, source, and URL.

 A notecard was created in NoodleTools for this article, "Turning Off the Tap," and is linked to an MLA 8 citation; notice the Source box.

Direct Quotation: The original article is captured as a direct quotation which is "marked up" with highlighting. Marking up the original is a means of annotating the original. Identify main ideas, details, people, place names, company names, ideas that stand out as potentially useful in themselves or as leads to follow to more information.

Paraphrase or Summary: In the box labeled Paraphrase, the main ideas "are put into my own words." Remember that not every word or idea in the original article will be relevant or useful going forward. Extract only those ideas that are relevant and useful; state them in your own way using your own words.

My Ideas: Finally, reflect upon the relative value of the ideas extracted in this article for your thesis, your argument. How will you use them? What makes them valuable? What idea in your argument do they support and how? What is the author's authority? intent? purpose? bias? How does information about the author influence your choices and how you will use the information from the article?

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