Activity: Follow the steps below to brainstorm a list of search terms: 1. Write out your working thesis statement and underline the main ideas in it. For example: There are many factors that contributed to the American Civil War, but slavery was the primary cause. 2. Then, create a list of related keywords and phrases from the main ideas that you circled/underlined. Think of additional search terms that also describe each of the main ideas, including synonyms. For example, “War Between the States” is another phrase for the “Civil War.” Impetus and motivation are synonyms for “cause.” Add any ideas you have to your list, even the ones that may seem off the wall; sometimes they end up being the most helpful. If you have trouble thinking of other terms, try using a specialized dictionary, encyclopedia or thesaurus. You can use the Background Information page in the Library for links to dictionaries, encyclopedias and thesauri to help you come up with additional search terms. 3. Add any alternative spellings or abbreviations to the words on your list, if needed. For example, if one of your main ideas is PTSD, then also include “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Authors use different words and phrases in their articles, so you will want to try all variations when searching to get the best results. 4. List words that have broader or narrower meanings than your original terms. For example, say you go to an online shopping website and are trying to find a jacket that your friend was wearing. First you type in “jacket,” but you get too many results. A narrower term could be “blue peacoat.” But, this term may be too narrow and you may get zero results. You may want to then try a broader team, such as “outerwear.” 5. Take out any stop words or clutter words, such as “a,” “is,” or “the.” These are not used by search engines and can clog up your search results.
Assignment: Submit the following in a Word document to the assignment drop box for a grade: • Your thesis statement with your main ideas underlined • Your list of brainstormed search terms for each of your main ideas. Include at least two search terms for each main idea that you underlined.
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