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Christolear ENG 113A

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Background Information

Getting some background information before you start researching will help you focus your topic and give you an idea of what to look for in your search. Here are some Reference Databases you can use to get a basic understanding of your topic.

Gale Virtual Reference Library: Over 100 encyclopedias, almanacs, and other reference sources.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context: Features viewpoint articles, and topic overviews on controversial topics.

Keyword Brainstorming

Before you start your research, brainstorm some broader, narrower and/or related keywords to help with your search. These keywords can come from your own knowledge of your topic or from searching background information.

My argument: The Federal government of the United States should legalize same-sex marriage.

Main Keyword 1 Main Keyword 2 Main Keyword 3
Federal government same-sex marriage
United States gay marriage equality
America lesbian Federal benefits
national LGBT legal recognition


Using AND & OR in a Database

Databases search differently than most search engines. Once you've brainstormed your keywords, you can use the words AND & OR to manipulate your search. Here is an example from the Academic Search Premier database:

 First search line is a keyword search for "United States" or nation*; second line is separated by And in a drop down menu and is a keyword search for same-sex or gay or lesbian or LGBT; third line is separated by And in a drop down menu and is a keyword search for marriage or "marriage equality"

Placing multiple-word keywords in quotation marks will only search for the two terms together, for example "United States". Putting an asterisk (*) at the end of a word will truncate it. For example, nation* will search for nation as well as national.

Remember- AND narrows your search while OR broadens it. Think of it like a Venn Diagram:

Venn diagram showing two overlapping circles with overlap highlighted Venn diagram showing two ovelapping circles where both circles are entirely highlighted
Returns results with all of your keywords Returns results with any of your keywords

Find Articles in Databases

General/Multi-Subject Databases: These will bring back results from different disciplines and sources

General OneFile
Academic Search Elite

Subject Databases: These will bring back results from a specific discipline:

Business Source Elite: Scholarly articles and business profiles

America: History & Life: Articles as well as dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada

CINAHL Plus: Nursing and health articles

Communication and Mass Media: Journals in communication studies, speech, mass media, journalism, etc.

PsycARTICLES: Access to peer-reviewed articles from more than 50 journals in psychology

Sociological Abstracts: Over 1,600 serials publications, plus book chapters in the field of sociology

To find databases in other disciplines, use the Find Articles by Subject page.

If you need an article or book that we don't have, we can order it from another library through Interlibrary Loan.


Get Help

Your course librarian:
Anna Fidgeon

English Librarian:
Kimberly Embleton

Ask A Librarian: Get help by text, e-mail, phone or in-person
Online How-To Guides and Tutorials

Writing Sources

Citing Your Sources: Get help with MLA Style Citations

The Writing Center: Make an appointment with a writing consultant to help with all stages of writing your paper.

Plagiarism Explained

Find an Article From a Citation

Learn more about the components of a citation and how to find an article using one at the Research Therapy Series' Finding an Article From a Citation.