Wells ENG 306

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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.

Let's say I'm researching communication in performing arts.

Main Keyword 1 Main Keyword 2 Main Keyword 3
jobs performing arts communication
career theater marketing
filter bubble theatre critical thinking
vocational guidance entertainment writing skills
job searching   negotiation

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:

 top search box includes keywords "career or job or 'job hunting' or 'vocational guidance'", second search box is separated by AND and includes keywords "theat* or 'performing arts' or entertainment", third searchbox is separated by AND and includes keywords "communication or marketing"

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:

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

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 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.

Evaluating Websites

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:

 Who is the author and what makes she or he qualified to write on this topic? Who is publishing/hosting this site and are they reputable? Unbiased: Does the author or publisher have a financial or ideological stake in presenting only certain facts? What is the purpose of this site? Current: When was this information published or last updated? Could there be newer information? Accurate: Where is the author getting his/her information from? Can you verify the information in another source?

This video will explain more: