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Library Guide for the Writing Center: Background Research

This guide provides information literacy and research help to Writing center tutors and clients.

Brainstorming Tools

Brainstorming is one of the most important steps in the research process. It helps researchers figure out what they already know, see what they need to look into further, and outline their research questions. The tools below give you a variety of ways to generate and organize ideas. There are methods included for every type of thinker and learner, so browse through them and see which ones work best for you!

Helpful Search Term Strategies




Once you decide what topic you want to write about, the dictionary is a great place to start your research. It's possible that you already have a good idea what the words in your research question mean, but you'll be surprised what you can learn about the rhetorical significance of a word with a little investigation!


Just like dictionaries expand your understanding of words, encyclopedias can be employed to enhance your knowledge of people, places, movements, timelines, theories, and on and on. They provide crucial details and specific information that can add breadth and depth to your research, and whether you use them to broaden your topic with new information or narrow your focus to one specific area, they are a must when it come to research projects!