Brainstorming Basics

A great way to figure out if your topic is too broad or narrow is to brainstorm.

Brainstorming consists of thinking of all of the synonyms, related terms and interested parties for a particular topic. We call these keywords.

Brainstorming can be tough so here are some tools you can use if you have trouble coming up with a topic or its keywords:

  • Check a subject encyclopedia for ideas and concepts.
  • Do some exploratory searches in an article database or a search engine. Look at the abstracts or summaries of articles that interest you or scan webpages that seem on topic; they may give you ideas for topics and, in the databases, you can look at their subject terms for possible keywords.
  • Talk to friends or classmates that may know of different terms or ways of restating your topic.
  • If you need help, ask a reference librarian.