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ENG 102 & 111: College Composition II

The research process.

Why Use Journal Articles?

Use journal articles to find in-depth information on a specific topic.  They are usually more current than books.  Articles from academic journals are often peer reviewed.

Databases let you search for articles on your topic and will tell you in which volume of which journal it's published.

Sometimes a database will actually have a copy of the article for you to view online. This is called full-text, and it's a beautiful thing.

Other databases just tell you where to find the article, but don't have a digital copy to give you. 

Why Use General Interest Books

Use a book:

  • when looking for comprehensive information on a topic
  • for in-depth argument and understanding
  • for authoritative information - they have gone through an editorial process and many that we buy are written by experts in the field
  • when you want time to read & digest information - it's still the most portable method
  • The books in Spiva Libary have been selected for you by University faculty, specifically to meet your course needs. They are continuously reviewed for relevance
  • Books cover virtually any topic in detail, fact or fiction

Why Use Newspaper Articles?

Newspaper Articles generally:

  • convey information about a current event, incident, people, places or issues of public interest.
  • contain personal opinions on a topic

Why Use Reference Books?

Use reference books to:

  • Get an overview of your topic
  • Get ideas for a research paper
  • Find keywords to search with
  • Find important authors on your topic
  • Find important works on your topic

Reference works are a good place to start, but typically should not be cited in your research. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).

Boolean Search Techniques

Need to search a database? Watch this Boolean clip to learn how to combine search words and get the results you are looking for.

Adapted from the materials created by The University of Auckland Library, NZ. This video is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license.

Search Strategies-How should you combine search terms to find what you are looking for?

When researching, we are like detectives trying to combine the right terms in the right place to find the information we need.

Broad Search

Search for information using the single most important term related to your topic. Use this type of search when looking for basic background information.

Specific Search

Search for information by combining key concepts using the words you have brainstormed. Each concept/word should be separated by the word "AND". Use this kind of search when looking for specific evidence related to your claim/thesis.

Getting Too Many Irrelevant Results?

Add more search terms.

Getting Too Few Relevant Results?

Change or remove some search terms.

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