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English 201 Baggett Research Guide: Home

This guide is designed to help students conduct research for their English 201 class with Paul Baggett.

Research Resources & Help

Briggs Library has a number of resources for investigating issues associated with the environment. This guide provides information on research, including information evaluation. Please consult Linda Kott, your English Subject Librarian, or the librarian on duty via our Ask @Briggs service for additional help with your research.

Developing a Topic

One approach to developing a topic is to start with a broad subject that interests you and brainstorm some more specific topics under this broad category. For example:


  • internet businesses
  • cybersecurity
  • cell phones
  • online education
  • cyberbullying
  • robotics
  • self-driving cars
  • 3D printing

The bulleted topics are narrower, but will still need to be refined for an undergraduate research project. This is a good point to begin your research. See how much information is available on a topic and how authors approach different aspects of the topic. You’ll want to develop a research question or questions to help guide you as you search for information. Example research questions for researching cell phones follow.

Cell Phones

  • Does texting affect writing skills?
  • Can teachers use cell phones to engage students in the classroom?  If so, how?
  • How do cell phones function as a status symbol?
  • How do cell phones affect social interactions?

Your topic and topic question will evolve as you continue with your research.

Are you having trouble finding information on your topic?

Try different searches, keeping in mind that you'll need to consult multiple sources to research your topic.

Still no luck? Consider broadening your topic.

Ideas for broadening a topic:

  • Cover a broader time span
  • Cover a broader geographic area
  • Include a larger population
  • Bring in related topics or perspectives
  • Examine a larger problem


Narrow topic: Do SDSU students taking writing classes online make less progress than SDSU students taking in-person classes?

To address this question you’d likely need to conduct original research.  To find published sources you could try broadening the population and broadening the type of learning addressed.

  • Do college students taking writing classes online make less progress than students taking in-person classes?
  • Do college students taking classes online make less academic progress than students taking in-person classes?

Narrow Topic: How are men portrayed in beer commercials shown during NFL games?

Broader to topics to try:

  • How are men portrayed in commercials for alcohol?
  • How are men portrayed in commercials?
  • Are men portrayed as simplistic on television?

Mapping is another approach to generating ideas and to exploring ways to narrow or broaden a topic. You can start mapping out concepts by asking the questions who, what, when, where, and why.

You can use online programs to create concept maps which illustrate the relationships.

Topics in Your Major

You may want to pick a topic related to your major. If you are unfamiliar with concerns and issues in your field of study, you can look to professional organizations for information.  Professional organizations usually host Web sites and may also publish press releases, trade journals, or scholarly publications.

To identify professional organizations:

  • Ask your advisor for recommendations.
  • Consult Briggs Library research guides in the subject area. They often list professional organizations.
  • Do a Web search.
  • Ask a librarian.
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