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ENG 101 - Stereotypes

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.


You will be searching for information about stereotypes and stereotyping, but there are related terms to keep in mind that mean something quite similar to stereotypes. Some examples are: discrimination, bias, disparity, equality/inequality, polarization, stigma, social perception, etc. You may think of more. Keep an eye out for words that are related to the meaning of "stereotype" and think about using them in your search, if appropriate.

As you think about what concepts you want to write about, think about what particular words might be found in a good article about that topic.  For instance, if you are writing about how television portrays working women, you might want to search on :

"working women" and television or t.v. 

Unlike Google, our database work best when search terms are combined with connecting words, such as 'and' or 'or.' Or is useful when you want to find either variation of a term, such as television, or its abbreviation, t.v.

Then, when you have some good articles on the portrayal of working women on t.v., you can narrow your search further by searching for stereotypes, portrayal, or other closely related terms. Ctrl+F will bring up a "search within" box, and Gale databases have a "search within" feature.

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.