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Developing Ideas: Searching the Internet

Using the Internet is a good way to see what kinds of websites are available on your topic. Writers use search engines not only to understand more about the topic’s specific issues but also to get better acquainted with their audience. When you search the Internet, type key words from your broad topic or words from your narrowed focus into your browser’s search engine (many good general and specialized search engines are available for you to try). Then look over the results for relevant and interesting articles.

screenshot of a google web search

Searching the Internet from Writing for Success by the University of Minnesota Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0 license

This is where the criteria covered in class will be useful to examine each source. Not all results of online searches will be useful or reliable. Give careful consideration to the reliability of an online source before selecting a topic based on it. Remember that factual information can be verified in other sources, both online and in print. If you have doubts about any data you find, either do not use it or identify it as potentially unreliable.

The results from the search on media included websites from university publications, personal blogs, online news sources, and lots of legal cases sponsored by the recording industry. After reviewing the idea map, you might decide you were more interested in consumer aspects of mass media, so you would refocus your search to media technology and the sometimes confusing array of expensive products that fill electronics stores. Now, you could consider a paper topic on the products that have fed the mass media boom in everyday lives.

Exercise 4

In Exercise 3, you chose a possible topic and explored it by answering questions about it using the 5WH questions. However, this topic may still be too broad. Here, choose and complete one of the prewriting strategies (brainstorming, idea mapping, searching the internet) to narrow the focus. Then, share with a classmate and compare your answers. Share what you found and what interests you about the possible topic(s).

Topic Checklist

Use the checklist to decide if your narrowed topic is a good topic for your assignment:

  • Am I interested in this topic?
  • Would my audience be interested?
  • Do I have prior knowledge or experience with this topic? If so, would I be comfortable exploring this topic and sharing my experiences?
  • Do I want to learn more about this topic?
  • Is this topic specific?
  • Does it fit the length of the assignment?

If you can answer “yes” to all the questions, write your topic on the line. If you answer “no” to any of the questions, think about another topic or adjust the one you have and try the prewriting strategies again.

My narrowed topic: ____________________________________________

Key Takeaways

  • All writers rely on steps and strategies to begin the writing process.
  • The steps in the writing process are prewriting, outlining, writing a rough draft, revising, and editing.
  • Prewriting is the transfer of ideas from abstract thoughts into words, phrases, and sentences on paper.
  • A good topic interests the writer, appeals to the audience, and fits the purpose of the assignment.
  • Writers often choose a general topic first and then narrow the focus to a more specific topic.

This is a derivative of WRITING FOR SUCCESS by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Source: http://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/8-1-apply-prewriting-models/

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Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Developing Ideas: Searching the Internet by Cheryl McCormick, Sue Hank, and Ninna Roth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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