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FILA 150 Humans on Wire Class Guide


Welcome to the FILA 150 Humans on Wire Class Guide. This guide is designed to help you with your annotated bibliography and paper for this class. You need to find a minimum of eight sources for this assignment, five of which need to be peer-reviewed articles. This guide is designed to help you do just that.

Some quick links in this guide:

If you're having trouble with this assignment, I am more than happy to help, as is BC's other research librarian Vickie. Feel free to make an appointment with either one of us using the button below:

Selecting a Topic

For your Exploration of Balance paper assignment, you should discuss potential topics with a faculty member in the department of your major. They should be able to give you several ideas, but then you should take the time to think about the options they have given to you and what about them interests you most. Be sure that you can relate your topic to the theme of "balance," which is essential to the course. Be sure that you confirm your topic with Dr. Brazill prior to delving too deep into your annotated bibliography assignment.

When trying to come up with a topic, make sure that it is something manageable. It can be really easy to choose a topic like "climate change," but the problem with that topic is that it is way too broad. What about "climate change" interests you? Once you know what interests you, then you can start thinking about the keywords that might be effective in your searching.

Below, you'll find a couple of sources that will help you in this pre-writing/topic formation stage:

Finding Example Topics

Sometimes it can help to see what other people have researched. The following resources contain example topics. Even if you don't pick one of their topics, seeing what other people have done can help you brainstorm. 

Just make sure that whatever topic you choose fits with the assignment. You can use the strategies mentioned above to make the topic your own. 

Keyword Searching

Keywords are the terms you will use to search for information. Just typing in your entire topic sentence is not an efficient way to search. Here are some tips for using keywords effectively.

If you are looking for editorials or opinions articles on a topic, include the format in your keywords

Keywords: global warming, editorial

Condense your topic down to the 3 or 4 essential terms. 

Example Topic: "Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and other bands introduced Grunge music to popular audiences and changed rock music in the late 80s early 90s."

Keywords: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grunge, popular music

Consider synonyms or alternate words to describe your term

Example: "England used Privateers in the New World in order to harass Spain without committing official navy vessels."

Keywords: England, Great Britain, British, Privateers, Pirates, New World, Caribbean, Atlantic


Keep track of the terms and indicate which ones are most successful. This will help you when you go from searching one type of resource to another.

Subject Headings

Librarians love to organize information. One way we do this is by using subject headings. Since some subjects can be described using various terms (like cats or felines), librarians have come up with a standardized list, or controlled list, of subjects that can be used when describing resources. This list (known as the Library of Congress Subject Headings) provides the controlled vocabulary that every librarian uses when they describe the subject of a book, DVD, or any other object in the library's catalog.

The easiest way to understand subject headings is to see it in action. The most convenient example is the library's catalog. When you pull up the full record of a title, it will give you the subject heading for that item hyperlinked, so you can search for other titles with that descriptor. 

 Example of Subject terms from catalog


You also will find subject headings in many of our online databases (like Academic Search Complete), where they help organize thousands of articles. They may not utilize the same list of subjects as the Library of Congress, you can still approach searching them the same way as in the library's catalog.

image of subject terms of Academic Search Complete

Keyword Searching Worksheet

The below worksheet is designed to help you get searching. It will help you find the keywords from your topic and move them towards the searching phase of this assignment. 

Want to try it out? Download the worksheet by clicking the link below: