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Student Resources & Services: Thinking About Your Paper

Library resources and services for students

Developing a Search Strategy

1.  Brainstorm your topic

2.  Group your idea

3.  List synonyms for terms in each group

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Example:

1.  Brainstorm: Natural disasters

  • Browse newspapers
  • Try a simple search for news in ProQuest or LexisNexis

2.  Identify an issue: Natural disasters and prepardness

3.  Think of several questions you want answered

  • What type of disaster (flood, fire, earthquake)?
  • US or international?
  • What policies are in place?
  • What can individuals do?
  • What is the role of government?

4.  Find background information

  • Try general encyclopedias such as CREDOreference
  • Explore subject encyclopedias and handbooks--ask your librarian for assistance

5.  Find research articles that answer your questions

  • EBSCO's Academic Search Premier
  • Gale's Acadmic FirstSearch
  • ProQuest's Research Complete

6.  Consider balance in research

  • Reference Sources, handbooks and encyclopedias, almanacs, etc., provide good background information, biography, and statistics
  • Books discuss topics in depth; they may be popular/mass market, scholarly monographs--one author, or collections of essays
  • News articles provide current viewpoints
  • Trade journals give industry perspective
  • Professional journals provide analysis as to how the topic is handled within a discipline
  • Academic research journals, peer-review, provide studies and research related to the topic

Always keep in mind your assignment and instructions from your teacher

Research Starters

Several book collections and databases provide topic guides to help you begin the research process:

Social Issues Collections

Contemporary Issues

Opposing Viewpoints

Reference Shelf

Social Problems & Social Issues

Taking Sides

Many of the titles in the series above are available as e-books.

EBSCO Research Starters

Provides research summaries on hot topics:

Research Starters - Business

Research Starters - Education

Literati

Provides Topic Guides to help you get started on research.

Starting to Search

Once you have your topic in mind, you may begin to search for books and articles on your topic. 

SmartSearch is a great place to test your topic since it looks for your terms in the full text of our e-book and article collections.  [Almost like Google... but with better academic relevancy.]

The Library's QuickStart Guide is a quick reminder of how to begin with the Library Catalog and broad-range article databases. 

  • News:  Use LexisNexis or ProQuest Central
  • Trade & Mass Market Magazines:  Use ProQuest
  • Professional:  Explore subject guides to see what databases are best for particular subject areas
  • Academic/Scholarly:  Use EBSCO's Academic Search Premier or Gale's Academic OneFile or a subject specific database

You may also use the search boxes in the mid-section of this page to get started.

If you have questions about how to best search in the different databases, check out Database Tutorials & How-To Guides