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Ideation (Brainstorming)

This guide covers the mechanics and techniques of the brainstorming process to generate ideas for your writing.

Using Resources to Brainstorm

If you are completing an assignment requiring research, or where other opinions on a controversial matter may be needed, the library can help you see "what's out there" before you commit to a topic. 

We recommend the following resources:


Encyclopedias provide you with useful background information on a topic. This can be beneficial as you identify more specific components of a very broad topic.

As an example, you may want to write a paper on "gun control," but a keyword search on the web or in the library returns more information than you could possible condense into a shorter essay. An encyclopedia entry might give you something more specific to look for in the realm of that topic, like the Brady Bill. 

A keyword search for "encyclopedia" in DragonQuest will pull up well over a million results, even when you limit those results to the full text collection.

You might also try a search in a specific database to narrow your results further. We recommend:


Research Starters

Research Starters are a specific type of encyclopedia entry, and they are placed at the top of your search results screen in DragonQuest if your search is broad enough. 

The following image shows the position of a Research Starter at the top of the DragonQuest search results list:

The image shows a keyword search for "abortion" and a research starter positioned as the first result on the search results screen.

This Research Starter is available at the following link: 


Talking to others can be helpful in your planning process. This includes librarians, professors, mentors, and tutors. No two people will approach a topic from exactly the same direction.

Librarians offer one-on-one Research Consultations on campus and online. We can walk you through various search options and strategies as you're planning your project.