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EAPS 375 Fossil Fuels, Energy and Society: Step 1: Getting Started


Once you have your keywords, brainstorm a list of synonyms. This is necessary because computers do not necessarily use the same words to describe a concept that you would. You must provide the computer with a variety of terms to be a successful searcher. 

Getting started on a term paper

To get started on the research necessary to complete a good term paper,

  • Develop keywords
  • Make a list of synonyms
  • Pick a database
  • Run your search
  • Identify quality sources within the results
  • Download the citations
  • Read the articles
  • Write the paper, including in text citations and a bibliography.

Developing keywords

To start out your paper research, write out your topic sentence, being careful to include such concepts as Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. 


My paper will be about the geologic conditions that enabled England to become the first industrialized nation in the 1700s. 

Who - the nation of England (politicians, inventors, landowners, factory owners)

What - the geologic conditions

When - the 1700s, geologic time 

Why - role of geology in development of industrialization

How - was geology important? did English inventors use available resources to innovate? 


"Who" is generally the social aspects of your topic.

"What" is frequently the central keyword or concept for the paper.

"When" helps to limit the search to appropriate timeframes.

"Why" is generally the motivating or driving force behind the topic.

"How" is generally the action that happens in the paper. It is the actual events or changes that occur. 

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Thomas Gerrish
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