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The purpose of this research guide is to help students in Scott Orme's ENGL 101 class find credible and college-level information sources. Students will write on topics from the textbook They Say I Say:
- climate change
- political and social divisions
- the value of college
- the effect of technology on society
- gender issues
This guide will suggest useful sources, search techniques and evaluation methods for researching your topic.
When to Ask a Librarian for Help
When you're not sure how to select the best library databases for your topic.
When you need help identifying search words
When you aren't sure if your source is sufficiently credible and academic for the assignment
When you've found an interesting citation but can't find the full text
When you've spent a lot of time searching without good results
When you're feeling frustrated
Questions about research, citation, login, or other?
Contact a librarian any time!
Recommended Sources and Searching Tips
LIBRARY RESEARCH DATABASES
Periodicals - magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals
Reference Books - iarticles from scholarly encyclopedias can help you narrow your topic
eBooks - browsing a book's Table of Contents can give you ideas for narrowing your topic
- CQ Researcher - reports providing in-depth, unbiased coverage of political and social issues
- Opposing Viewpoints - reference, news, magazine, and journal articles as well as statistics, videos, audio clips and recommended websites providing pro and con coverage of controversial political and social issues
- As you begin your research think about the search words you'll use. Keep a list of your search words and add to it as you find new words. Here are some examples:
- Climate change / global warming / extinction / biodiversity / fossil fuels / food insecurity / extreme weather / drought / floods / wildfires
- Political & social divisions / partisanship / political divide / polarization / gerrymandering / rural-urban relations / income gap / income inequality / disenfranchisement
- Value of college / educational benefits / college affordability / student debt / college costs / lifetime income / income inequality / long term investment
- Technology / social media / artificial intelligence / automation / smartphone / surveillance / internet addiction / screen time / digital divide / facial recognition technology
- Gender / pay gap / transgender / LGBTQ rights / marriage equality / sexual orientation / stereotypes
- When searching, use quotation marks to keep phrases together: "artificial intelligence'", "college costs", "income inequality"
- If you have too many results when using the library research databases try changing the search fields. Here's an example from Academic Search Complete that shows the search fields changed to Subject Terms. In other words, retrieved articles must really be about that subject, rather than just mentioning the words in a minor way.
Evaluating information and domain searching
WWW Test - ask these questions when determining whether a source is reliable, especially when Googling.
- Who's the author? Is the author an expert?
- What's the nature of the information? Is it objective or biased? Is it based on careful research?
- When was it written? Is it appropriately up-to-date?
Note: Evaluating information can be more complicated than answering these simple questions. If you need help thinking through the evaluation process, ask a librarian or your instructor.
Try limiting your Google search to a particular domain (such as .edu or .gov which are restricted domains). You may find more reliable information. Here are a couple of search examples:
"income inequality" rural site:.edu
"climate change" biodiversity site:.gov
Evaluating Sources for Credibility - North Carolina State University Libraries (3:15)
Developing a Research Question