3. Narrow Your Topic
Once you've done some initial background reading, it's time to narrow down your topic to what you really want to write about. Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read thus far.
What aspect of the topic do I want to focus on?
What interests me about the topic?
What do I want to write about?
As you start to narrow this down into a thesis, you'll want to continue to look for more sources. As you read, you might tweak or adjust your topic/thesis. In order to help you find more related sources about your topic, you'll want to identify keywords to help you search.
As you get ready to search for sources using keywords, think about what concepts were discussed in the article you read earlier in class. Write down some relevant terms that might be found in a good article about that topic.
*Tip: It helps to surround search phrases with quotation marks. This lets the computer know you are searching for that specific phrase. Unlike Google, in the Library's databases it helps to use the connecting words such as and or or between terms.
For the topic of prison labor policy, some terms to start searching might be:
"prison labor" and regulations
"prison labor" and "United States"
inmates and "working conditions"
"prison labor" or "convict labor"
For the topic of smartphone usage, some terms to start searching might be:
"smart phones" or smartphones
"smartphones" and teenagers
"smartphones" and "health" or "mental health"
"smartphones" and dangers
Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search. Search the databases with the keywords you selected to find relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance coming up with keywords or looking for sources.