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 doing my report on trends in successful community outreach for performing arts.
|Main Keyword 1||Main Keyword 2||Main Keyword 3|
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:
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:
|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 APA/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.
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.