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ENGL 2A: Art, Culture & Social Justice (Tremblay-McGaw): Searching Tips

A research guide for students enrolled in ENGL 2A/CTW 2: Art, Culture & Social Justice

Search Tips

Though searching can be a messy process, designing a search strategy can make finding good sources for your research paper easier.  Below are suggested steps to think through in the search process:  choosing a topic; developing a search strategy; choosing the right database; finding articles; and organizing sources.

Step 1: Choose a Topic


Choosing a Topic You are Curious About

The first step in the search process is to choose a topic.  Choosing a topic you are curious about and interested in will make the research process easier and more enjoyable.

Step 2: Develop a Strategy

Searching is Strategic

Searching can be difficult, but beginning with a search strategy can make your database searches more successful.  Start with brainstorming keywords.

Step 3: Select a Database

Choosing the Right Database

Once you have a topic and keywords, select a database to find books and articles. For books, use the OSCAR library catalog.  For articles, select a library database, starting with some of the recommended databases  on this guide.  You can also browse the Database by subject list on the library web page.  

Step 4: Find Articles

Finding Scholarly Articles

Once you have selected a database, use your keywords to search and find full text scholarly articles.

Step 5: Repeat

Search is a Cycle

Search is sometimes referred to as cycle.  In other words, you often will need to search multiple times and in many different places.  You might modify or adjust your topic, brainstorm new keywords, and try searching in additional databases.  Repeating your search strategy can help you find additional and more refined sources.

Step 6: Organize Sources

Organizing Sources for the Writing Process

The final step in the search process is to organize your sources for the writing process.  By organizing and annotating the sources you have find, you will save time and improve the quality of your research paper.