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Research Basics: Getting Started

Getting Started

Before you Begin: Know the Assignment

  • What type of paper is this? Informative? Argumentative? Research? Creative?
  • What question are you trying to answer?
  • Is there more than one part to the assignment?
  • What length is your final paper supposed to be?
  • How many resources are required?
  • What types of resources are required?
  • When is the assignment due?
  • What citation style is required?

Brainstorm your Search Strategy

Boolean Operators

Searching with "AND"
Think of "who, what, when, where, & why" for ways to focus your topic. When you connect keywords with "AND", you will narrow your search because you will only receive results that include BOTH keywords.
Searching with "OR"
Before searching, brainstorm words or concepts that are similar in meaning and use those as search terms. When you use "OR" to connect keywords, you broaden your search because the database will give you results that include either of your keywords.
Searching with "NOT"
When you use "NOT" with your keywords, you narrow your search because your results will exclude any sources including the second keyword.
You can also TRUNCATE
Insert an asterisk (hold the Shift key & the 8 key at the same time) to get results that include all possible endings of a root word. For example:
"symbol*" will retrieve symbol, symbolizes, symbolism, etc.
"devia*" will retrieve deviates, deviant, deviance, etc.