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ENGL 13 Withers: Welcome

Critical Reasoning and Writing

Research 101: Searching is Strategic

Doing academic research is hard, but there are some ways to make your searching more efficient and productive (Anna Eisen, 3:14)!


Searching for Information in Databases

  1. Start on the library website
  2. Click on Databases link
  3. Based on database descriptions, decide which database(s) seem most relevant to your topic
    • For your class, head over to:
      • EBSCOhost Web
      • Ethnic NewsWatch
      • SIRS (I would concentrate on the first two options vs. SIRS because SIRS doesn't have as much scholarly content)
    • If you select EBSCOhost Web, you will need to checkbox the EBSCOhost-provided databases that seem the most relevant to your topic
    • Use at least 2-3 databases
  4. Use 2-4 terms at a time in your searches
    • The database will look for your terms in the summaries of articles (PDF) (or in the whole article if the HTML is also available)
      • What kinds of terms might a researcher use?
      • Consider that you may have to change your research question a bit depending on the information available
  5. Use search strategies
    • use quotes around short phrases to force the database to look for the specific phrase vs. individual words
    • connect terms with AND & OR as appropriate
      • Using AND between words tells the database to search for article summaries that include BOTH terms (narrows search)
      • Using OR between words tells the database to search for article summaries that include either this term OR that term (broadens search)
  6. Limits results to full-text, so you can actually download the PDF and/or access the HTML
  7. Limit results to scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles
  8. Limit results to a specific date range (for example, 2016-2021)
  9. Email articles to yourself / download to your desktop or a specific folder
  10. Remember, no citation generator, even from a library database, is perfect. You will need to double-check and correct errors.