Instructional content for ENC 1101 information literacy modules

Topic Investigation


Topic Investigation




 Now that you have identified your research topic and have achieved a manageable scope, it's time to begin exploring your topic and finding some information to use in your essay. This module will focus on topic investigation and in order to investigate your topic further, you'll need to come up with some search terms or "keywords" to use while searching a database.

We go through this process because the terms you have used in your research question statement may or may not be the same words that others use when they report on their research findings. For example, we may be interested in finding out about how depression affects teens and smoking. The term "teen" might be problematic because there are so many words that mean roughly the same thing, like "teenager", "adolescent", and "young adult" just to name a few. Thinking about your search terms and coming up with a list of keywords will help you locate those materials that are the best and most relevant sources for your project.


Lesson Objectives

 After completing this module, you should be able to:

  • Identify the definition of a search term or "keyword" within the research context.
  • Brainstorm keywords and related terms for your research topic in preparation for searching online databases. 
  • Identify the definition of Boolean operators, and the function of the AND and OR operator in a search strategy.
  • Construct a search strategy making use of Boolean operators.
  • Use the ENC 1101 Library Research Guide to access two different databases that you'll use to conduct a preliminary search.
  • Use identified databases to retrieve relevant background or historical information about your research topic.

jigsaw-puzzle-piece.jpgModule Activities

    1. View this tutorial on Generating Search Terms (courtesy of the Cooperative Library Instruction Project under Creative Commons license cc-by-nc-sa).
    2. Complete this worksheet on brainstorming keywords (You may wish to use the Graph Words online visual thesaurus to help you generate terms)
    3. View the tutorial below (2:57) on the use of Boolean operators (2:58) (courtesy of the Lincoln Memorial University Health Sciences Library).

    4. Complete this worksheet on building a search strategy with Boolean operators using your research topic keywords from the previous worksheet
    5. Access the ENC 1101 research guide , locate two of the featured databases, and perform a preliminary search using your topic.



head_quiz.jpegModule Quiz

Take the quiz for this module in your canvas courseThis quiz contains five items. You will have 15 minutes to complete the quiz. You may take this quiz twice (highest score retained).