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Harrison ENG 306

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.

Let's say I'm doing my report on issues in outreach and marketing for community performing arts organizations.

Main Keyword 1 Main Keyword 2 Main Keyword 3
performing arts outreach trends
theater marketing innovative
theatre partnership social media
entertainment communication young adults
community theatre engagement  

As you start researching, you may find other terms to add to your Keyword Toolbox. Don't hesitate to add or eliminate keywords to find relevant results.

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 box says "Cantonese opera" or "Chinese opera", second search box separated by and says immigr* or globalization, third search box separated by and says "Hong Kong"

Librarian tips & tricks! Putting your search term in quotation marks will make sure the database only searches those two terms right next to each other, like "performing arts". Including an asterisk (*) will truncate your keyword, so partners* will search for partners, partnership, etc..

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 Premier

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

Sociological Abstracts: Articles and book chapters in the field of sociology

PsycINFO: Articles and book chapters in the field of psychology

Business Source Premier: Scholarly articles on business topics, including marketing and advertising

Art Full Text: Full text articles from the art field from 1997-present

Find more databases on the Databases 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 instructor:
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


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:

Online Government Resources

These government sites have a good amount of raw data & charts to use as evidence.

USA.gov: Find government information, research and statistics.

American Factfinder: American Census data.

PubMed: Articles & general health and medical information

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information on national and international business and labor topics, including the Consumer Price Index, Employment/Unemployment and National Compensation Data.


It is important to evaluate your sources- even if they're scholarly. Use the CRAAP test as a guideline. This video will explain:

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.