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ENGL 107 College Composition: Getting Started & Choosing a Topic

This guide is for all sections of English 107: College Composition

Welcome to Trinity Library's Research Guide for ENGL 107

Welcome to the research guide for ENGL 107. This guide contains information and resources to help you in ENLG 107. Please contact the library for more information or to set up a research appointment.

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The W Questions

The W questions can help you identify what's important about your topic and help you understand it better. 

  • WHY did you choose the topic?  What interests you about it?  Do you have an opinion about the issues involved?
  • WHO are the information providers on this topic?  Who might publish information about it?  Who is affected by the topic?  Do you know of organizations or institutions affiliated with the topic?
  • WHAT are the major questions for this topic?  Is there a debate about the topic?  Are there a range of issues and viewpoints to consider?
  • WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national or international level?  Are there specific places affected by the topic?
  • WHEN is/was your topic important?  Is it a current event, or is it historical?  Do you want to compare your topic by time periods?

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Choosing A Topic

The hardest part about research can be choosing a topic. For your ENGL 107 paper, you're able to write about any topic of your choice. You'll need to make sure your topic is researchable, isn't too broad or narrow, and most of all, something that interests you. Think about these questions as you brainstorm topic ideas:

Is it interesting to me?

Research may never be your favorite task, but it can be a lot less painful if you're actually interested in what you're researching and writing about! For your assignments in ENGL 107, you're able to choose any topic you'd like. Don't be limited by what you think is a research topic, almost anything can be turned into a researchable topic. For instance, if you love music, you might consider writing about hip-hop. 

Can I research this? 

While you want your topic to be interesting to you personally, you also want it to appeal to a wider audience. If your topic is too personal, like how hip-hop has impacted me, you won't find research on your topic. But if you starting thinking about the impact of hip-hop on society, you'll be able to find research and sources to use. 

Is my topic too narrow, or too broad?

In addition to having interest and general appeal, you also need to make sure your topic isn't too broad or too narrow. If your topic is too broad, you'll find too much research and it will be difficult to choose an area of focus. If your topic is too narrow, then you run the risk of not finding enough research- similar to if your topic is too personal. Try running some searches in the library's databases to see if you're retrieving too many irrelevant results or too few. If your results are in the high 10,000s, narrow your topic! If you're only getting 30 results, you may need to broaden your topic.


Research & Instruction Librarian

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Bridgette Comanda
Sr. Helen Sheehan Library
Trinity Washington University
125 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, DC 20017
(202) 884-9352

Thesis & Argument

thesis is the main idea or point that you're trying to make in a piece of writing. In ENGL 107, you'll write an argumentative essay where you attempt to persuade your audience with a thesis claim that is backed up by convincing evidence, which you will find in sources through your research.

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