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.
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|
|United States||gay||marriage equality|
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:
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:
|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
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.
Searching and Locating Print Resources
Titles in the Oviatt Library's collection are organized under the Library of Congress classification system. The call numbers you see on the spines of our books are essentially the book's address on the shelf as well as a code for the topic or topics the book contains. This allows for easier browsing when you are doing research in a subject area. If you are in the stacks looking for a book, be sure to look around your book's location to find other books on your topic.
If you are on the library website, you can also click on Find Other Books and Articles to locate other items classified under the same subject terms:
Use this Quick Guide: Library of Congress Classification System PDF to find general topic areas.
This video will explain how to find a book on the shelf, once you have your call number in hand:
Your course librarian:
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.
Visit the OneSearch FAQ to learn all about how to use the library's new online OneSearch tool to find articles, books and more. Or, watch the How to Use OneSearch video:
It is important to evaluate your sources- even if they're scholarly. Use the CRAAP test as a guideline. This video will explain:
What is a Scholarly Article?
Unsure about what it means when an article is scholarly? This video will explain:
This video will roughly explain how different information sources are created:
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.