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Course Project – Milestone 2

Course Project – Milestone 2

Step 1: Freewriting

The first step to brainstorming is to harness your brain’s energy around a topic (aka create the “storm”).  Many professional writers do this by freewriting about a topic for a set amount of time. This helps exercise your writing muscle and broaden your thinking on your topic.  For this exercise, set a timer for 10 minutes.  During this time write down anything that comes to mind about your topic.  Don’t stop until the timer goes off!  You don’t need to worry about proper spelling or sentence structure, just think broadly, pose questions, wonder, consider, and write what you already know about your topic. Think about the facts and questions you posed last week and how your instructor responded to them. You can choose to do this with a pen and paper or on a computer. You don’t need to submit this step with your finished product so feel free to experiment.

Step 2: Making a List

The next step is to use your freewrite paragraph to help narrow your area focus. The topic choices from Module 1 are too broad to cover adequately in a short research paper, so you need to find one subject or idea within that topic. Pull out the important ideas from your paragraph that could be useful directions of focus. Aim for at least 7 different ideas to pull out and list in bullets.

Step 3: Describing Your Topic and Finding Your Keywords

As you’ve been working on this you may find that certain ideas are standing out to you as more intriguing avenues for research. Now, pick one of these ideas and write one to two sentences describing your narrowed topic.

Step 4: Thinking of Synonyms

Next, underline at least 5-6 key terms and phrases in your description. Then, for each underlined word, come up with 2-3 synonyms, abbreviations, acronyms, or alternative terms to describe it. You can use a thesaurus (Links to an external site.) to help you with this. This step is crucial to finding useful sources to use in your paper because the sources you’re looking for may not appear if you search for one keyword but will appear with another.

Step 5: Searching the Library

The synonyms now give you a great list of keywords to use to search the Excelsior College Library for sources.

For this stage, we will NOT be using Google or other internet search engines to find sources. It is important to first understand how to effectively use our Excelsior College Library to find appropriate, scholarly sources. While you can find these types of sources through a Google search as well, you often have to search through and distinguish between many inappropriate sources as well. In later weeks, we’ll learn more about assessing the validity of information on the internet.

Begin by going to the Library Home page (Links to an external site.) and using the OneSearch tool. Try several combinations of your keywords and synonyms to see what types of sources come up. (Tip: view Library searching tips and tricks (Links to an external site.) and try using search tricks like AND, OR, *, or “ ” to change your results). Then, try an Advanced Search (Links to an external site.) within the OneSearch tool to narrow your results further. View the following video on conducting an Advanced Search. (Links to an external site.) In addition to changing your keywords and filters, trying limiting your results by date (look for more recent articles) or by source type (look for Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Journals). This will help you find higher-quality sources that are more likely to be useful to you in later weeks.

Find at least 6 sources that are relevant to your topic. They can be ebooks, journal articles, encyclopedia articles, news, and periodicals, etc. You may use the source you found last week if it still relates to your more narrowed topic. If not, scrap it and start fresh. The sources you find this week may not end up being the final sources you use for your paper, but they are a good way to get started on your narrower area of focus.