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Where Do I Search?
A good starting point for academic work is one or more of the many databases available through the library's website. Databases provide access and content to sources that are generally not available on the open web through a general search engine like Google.
Every database contains only certain types and amounts of information. Which one you choose depends almost entirely on the context of your research project. There is no single database or web search interface that will work for every research context; instead, you'll need to match your specific research needs to a variety of options.
Library catalog searches (i.e., Primo) can be the better choice when you are seeking in-depth, book-length treatments of a topic.
Multidisciplinary databases cover a wide variety of subject areas and may include a mix of popular and scholarly sources. They are good resources when you begin your research. Academic Search Premier is an example of a multidisciplinary database.
Subject databases cover a specific discipline and provide the widest range of access to scholarly sources. They are used for in-depth research. Communication & Mass Media Complete is an example of a subject database. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic.
Don't forget to prepare a list of related terms and concepts BEFORE you begin searching! This will save you time and give you a sense of direction as you search.
Number 1 Search Tip
Use Advanced Search and limit features whenever possible. Subset limits, date limits, citation searches, subject searches, etc. -- are all useful timesavers.
More Search Tips:
- Start with a general search.
- Avoid long phrases.
- When given a choice, go with advanced search.
- Use AND to find all the words (distinct concepts) on your topic.
- Use OR to find any of the words (synonyms or related concepts) on your topic.
- The symbol * is used as a right hand truncation character in most databases; it will find all forms of a word.
- Use limiters to focus your search by date, full text, peer reviewed articles, etc.
- Be flexible in your searching.
Too MUCH Information?
- Use more specific words.
- Narrow your search by adding more words connecting them with AND.
- Do a subject search instead of a keyword search.
- Put phrases in quotation marks.
Too LITTLE Information?
- Try different search words, including synonyms, broader terms, or related words.
- Use the truncation symbol * to get all forms of a word.
- Try a different database.
Here is an example in action:
Reading a Scholarly Article
During the preview phase, you'll want to concentrate on these key elements:
- Abstract (if available)
- First paragraph (sometimes the second paragraph, too): What does the author want to find out? What is the research question the author is asking?
- Evidence: What are the primary sources the author uses?
- Scholarly conversation: What are the other scholarly works (secondary sources) the author uses?
- Conclusion (typically the last paragraph): How does the author tie the evidence together to answer the research question? What is the significance of this research?
Once you've selected the article, you can actively read for content, argument, analysis and evaluation.
Tip: Read the article more than once! It may help to print out a copy so that you can make notes.
Reading a Citation
When reading a citation, break it down into parts. Check out the color-coded example below:
Bozdag, Engin. “Bias in Algorithmic Filtering and Personalization.” Ethics and Information Technology, vol. 15, no. 3, Sept. 2013, pp. 209–227.
Author(s). "Article Title." Journal Title, Volume, Issue No., Year of Publication, page numbers.
Tip: The most common pitfall of reading citations is mixing up the article and journal titles. Remember when searching Primo to find out if we have access to an article: it will be most efficient to search for the journal title.
Recommended Subject Databases
These subject databases may be especially useful for your research project for this class. Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases.
ABI/INFORM Collection This link opens in a new window
Includes ABI/INFORM Global, Trade and Industry, Dateline, and Archive. Includes key business and economics periodicals, country-and industry-focused reports, and downloadable data.
America: History & Life This link opens in a new window
Indexes articles, books, essays in books, and dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.
Art Full Text
Offers full text plus abstracts and indexing of an international array of peer-selected publications, including coverage of Latin American, Canadian, Asian and other non-Western art, new artists, contemporary art, exhibition reviews, and feminist criticism.
Arts & Humanities Database This link opens in a new window
Features hundreds of titles covering Art, Architecture, Design, History, Philosophy, Music, Literature, Theatre and Cultural Studies.
Asian & European Business Collection This link opens in a new window
Information pertinent to the study of business and finance topics across Asia and Europe. Find information on companies, economies, markets, international trade, and overall business conditions and practices.
Business Source Premier
Major source for business & finance research. Includes news, magazines, and scholarly articles as well as country, company, and industry profiles.
CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature)
Provides indexing for journals from the fields of nursing and allied health. Also offers access to health care books, nursing dissertations, selected conference proceedings, standards of practice, educational software, audiovisuals and book chapters.
Access limited to 12 simultaneous users.
Criminal Justice Database
U.S. and international criminal justice journals. Topics covered include, criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections administration, drug enforcement, rehabilitation, family law, and industrial security.
Gender Studies Database
Covers the full spectrum of gender-engaged scholarship inside and outside academia. Several thousand links to freely available and indexed full-text articles and documents on the Internet are available. Source documents include professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, theses & dissertations and other sources.
Health & Medical Collection
Provides comprehensive journal coverage of clinical and biomedical topics, consumer health, health administration and more.
Historical Abstracts This link opens in a new window
Indexes articles, books, book chapters, and dissertations on all aspects of world history from 1450 to the present. Does not include United States and Canadian history, which is covered in America: History and Life.
Military & Government Collection
Designed to offer current news pertaining to all branches of the military and government, this database offers a thorough collection of periodicals, academic journals and other content.
Covers topics across all government and military branches, including international relations, political science, criminology, defense, aeronautics and space flight, communications, civil engineering and more.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
A federally funded resource offering justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide. Contains information on publications including: Federal, State, and local government reports; books; research reports; journal articles; and unpublished research. When available, links to online full text are provided.
Indexes resources on public affairs and policy, with an international scope.
Political Science Complete
Provides full text, and indexing and abstracts, for many journal titles with a worldwide focus reflecting the globalization of contemporary political discourse. The database also features full-text reference books and monographs, and full-text conference papers, including those of the International Political Science Association.
The American Psychological Association's (APA) resource for abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books and dissertations is the largest resource devoted to peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science and mental health.
Offers comprehensive coverage of sociology, encompassing all sub-disciplines and closely related areas of study. These include abortion, criminology & criminal justice, demography, ethnic & racial studies, gender studies, marriage & family, political sociology, religion, rural & urban sociology, social development, social psychology, social structure, social work, socio-cultural anthropology, sociological history, sociological research, sociological theory, substance abuse & other addictions, violence and many others.
Abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
Covers the international literature of sociology and social work, including culture and social structure, history and theory of sociology, social psychology, substance abuse and addiction and more.
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
This database provides abstracts and indexing of the international literature of political science and international relations, along with complementary fields, including international law and public administration / policy.