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 research. Here are some databases you can use to search encyclopedias and other reference sources to get a basic understanding of your topic.
Gale Virtual Reference Library: Over 100 encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized 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 research. These keywords can come from your own knowledge of your topic or from searching background information.
Let's say I'm researching communication in performing arts.
|Main Keyword 1||Main Keyword 2||Main Keyword 3|
|filter bubble||theatre||critical thinking|
|vocational guidance||entertainment||writing skills|
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 Art Full Text database:
Learn some librarian tricks!
* = truncation. Searching for theat* will search for that term + any ending: theater and theatre and theaters and theatres.
""= specific phrase. Searching for "vocational guidance" will search for those two terms ONLY if they are together.
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:
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.
Ask A Librarian: Get help by text, e-mail, phone or in-person
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.
Find Sources Using the Library's OneSearch Tool
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.
If you are using a website as a source for your paper, make sure it is a reliable source. Don't know what that means? Ask yourself these questions to determine if the website is authoritative, unbiased, current, and accurate:
This video will explain more: