Chat with a Librarian
Skip to Main Content
ask a librarian email questions

ENG 101 - Marijuana Legalization or Smart Phones (Autenzio)

This guide will help you find and use library resources for Paper 2 in Ms. Autenzio's English 101 course.

3. Narrow Your Topic

Narrow SignOnce 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.

Ask yourself:

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:

"marijuana leaglization" and "United States"

marijuana and laws and "United States"

marijuana and "federal government"

marijuana or reform

For the topic of smartphone usage, some terms to start searching might be:

"smartphone usage"

"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.