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ENG 312: Moveable Feasts: Writing About Food

Tara DaPra

Developing Search Terms

Finding the right search terms for your research can sometimes be the most difficult part of the research process. For this assignment, try thinking about the following to help you build the search terms you need for your search: 

1. What aspect of food are you interesting in researching? Use that as one of your search terms

  • recipes
  • gardening or growing food
  • cookbooks
  • kitchens
  • gender and cooking
  • holiday cooking
  • cookware
  • restaurants
  • etc. 

2. Is there a particular time period you are interesting in researching

  • 20th century America
  • Victorian Age
  • Ancient Periods
  • Early America
  • The Great Depression
  • etc. 

3. Is there a particular culture you are interesting in researching?

  • Immigrant cooking in America
  • Asian Cultures
  • Latin America
  • English
  • German 
  • etc. 

4. Is there are particular food you want to research? 

  • hot dogs
  • pizza
  • hamburgers
  • ice cream
  • croissants 
  • pad thai
  • wine
  • etc.

You may not have an answer to each question, and that is okay. These are meant to get you thinking more about ways you could narrow your research and come up with terms you would like to use for your search. You might also have different types of questions to ask depending on what you research.

Whatever you are researching, it is always helpful to pause and think about what search terms will be most relevant for your topic. Taking that step can save you a lot of time researching. 

Applying Search Terms

After thinking about the questions from above, let's say I decided I wanted to research recipes about American immigrants and how they are apart of our food culture today.

For my search, I would start by using the terms "cookbooks immigrants America" to find books in Search@UW. Below, you can see a book I found from my search.

As you search, you may find that perhaps your search terms are becoming too narrow. Think of ways you could broaden your search to find something related. For example, if I wanted to research spaghetti and I am having limited results, I would maybe try to find a book on Italian food instead.

If you are still struggling, navigate to the research help page of this guide to connect with a librarian.