Molly Pitcher at the Battle Monmouth, lithograph
published by Currier & Ives, [between 1856 and 1907]
• Keep your initial search simple—single words or short phrases. In database, set the limit for “Full Text” right away, but save other limits (such as date ranges, scholarly, etc.) until you see the results list.
• Look for common database tools (suggested subject headings, abstracts, citation help, emailing and save options) on the edges of the page, often in a color bar above the search boxes or in a separate frame on the right or left of your results list.
Truncation allows you to search variables of a word by typing part of the word plus an asterisk *
ADOPT finds just adopt, but ADOPT* finds adopted, adopting, adoptions, etc.
WOMAN finds just woman, but WOM*N finds woman and women.
Enclose your words in quotation marks or parentheses to create a phrase search.
CHILDREN OF MEN finds titles with any combination of those common words.
"CHILDREN OF MEN" finds the book and movie with that exact title.
Look for proximity search options.
Many CFCC databases offer proximity searching by typing multiple search terms within a single search box (with no quotation marks).
Google also uses a variation of proximity searching, giving more relevance to words typed in a single search box if they appear near each other in the results.
Use the right Boolean operator.
• Use the right Boolean operator--usually AND--to link two search terms. Using OR often results in a large number of unrelated (and less useful) results. Using AND assures that both of your search terms will appear in the same document.
Use the General Keyword search box and type in your topic plus one of the following words or phrases:
Note: Use of the * at the end of a word will search for singular and plural forms.
Digital reference books to help you get started. Get an overview of your topic and ideas for ways to organize your paper or presentation.
Some databases offer lots of ways to limit, or narrow, your search without changing your search terms.
DATE : Do you want articles or books published just in the last 10 years, 5 years, 6 months? Nearly all databases offer a DATE limiter.
SOURCE TYPE : Does your assignment specify "trade journals" or prohibit the use of "websites?" Do you need a "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" source? Look for SOURCE TYPE or PUBLICATION TYPE.
DOCUMENT TYPE : Are you trying to avoid "book reviews," or "obituaries?" If you need a longer article, try selecting "feature" or "cover article." Want opinion rather than just facts? Select "commentary" or "editorial," but exclude "general information."
LANGUAGE or LOCATION : Finding too many articles in French or Portugese? Studies done in China or Uganda? Look for a LANGUAGE limiter to select only articles written in English, or a LOCATION or GEOGRAPHIC limiter for "United States," "U.S." or a particular state or region of interest to you.
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Here's what to look for:
|CRITERIA||POPULAR MAGAZINE||TRADE JOURNAL||SCHOLARLY JOURNAL|
|Content||Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform.||Current news, trends and products in a specific industry; practical information for professionals working in the field or industry.||In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication.|
|Author||Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise.||Author is usually a professional in the field, sometimes a journalist with subject expertise.||Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise.|
|Audience||General public; the interested non-specialist.||Professionals in the field; the interested non-specialist.||Scholars, researchers, and students.|
|Language||Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers.||Specialized terminology or jargon of the field, but not as technical as a scholarly journal.||Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area.|
|Graphics||Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.||Photographs; some graphics and charts; advertisements targeted to professionals in the field.||Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs.|
|Layout & Organization||Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.||Informal; articles organized like a journal or a newsletter. Evidence drawn from personal experience or common knowledge.||Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.|
|Accountability||Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style.||Articles are evaluated by editorial staff who may be experts in the field, not peer-reviewed*; edited for format and style.||Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers* or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style.|
|References||Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given.||Occasional brief bibliographies, but not required.||Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable.|
|Paging||Each issue begins with page 1.||Each issue generally begins with page 1.||Page numbers are generally consecutive throughout the volume.|