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Doing Research

An introduction to library research and finding the best sources.

Searching For Gold


  • Use several keywords, not just one.
  • Use the keywords the experts use -- check encyclopedias and textbook glossaries for precise terms.
  • Use limiters and filters -- if the assignment says "use sources three years old or less", let the database do the work.
  • Look for subjects describing articles you like -- search those same keywords for more good stuff
  • E-mail the article to yourself, with the right citation format.  You won't have to find it again, or spend time citing it right.
  • Switch databases if necessary-- maybe the treasure is buried somewhere else!


  • Read thousands of articles.  If you get more than 100 results, narrow your search and let the computer do more work for you.
  • Fixate on one article -- there are usually many articles on your subject!
  • Settle for old stuff -- check the article date  (especially in the sciences.)
  • Forget classic articles -- sometimes really good stuff was written long ago  (especially in the humanities.)


Find a journal