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Engl 1A - College Composition - Kathryn Gessner Calkins

Picking a Topic is Research

Before you can search for resources you need to know what you want to find. Whether you have a topic in mind, or you haven't thought about it at all, the library can help you to pick and develop your topic. 

Watch this short video from North Carolina State University on how picking a topic is tied to the research process. If you are having trouble viewing the video, click here

Using Boolean to narrow your search

Search Commands




to truncate words at their roots or stemsemploy

employ* for 

employ, employed, and employment

“  “

quotation marks

to enclose a phrase or name

"work environment"




to connect related terms

policy or policies or solution

(   )


To nest terms when for searches with multiple commands

(workplace or job or career)




to combine multiple facets

(workplace or job or career) AND Family-friendly policies


Combining Search Terms

(college or university) AND career* goal*

"College success" AND "time management"

(college or university) AND manag* debt

College AND (money OR success*)

college education AND (success* OR employ* or benefit*) AND economic return

college education AND (cost OR benefit) 

“community college” and (access* or afford* or cost)

parent* AND work-life balance  

motherhood AND work-life balance

famil* or (Parent-child relationship) AND (happ* or mindful)

(workplace or job or career) AND Family-friendly policies

racial diversity AND (workplace or job or career)

gender identity AND work* environment

"unesco world heritage site*"     ( Also try searching in JStor database)

"(unesco) world heritage site*" AND (tourism or visit*)

(unesco) world heritage site* AND (value* or importan*)

These are just a few examples of how you might combine your search terms.  If you are having trouble, please use Ask a Librarian or make an appointment with a Librarian.