The content below addresses the following learning objectives, with the intention to assist you in making the best choices when selecting sources for your research assignment:
This content will also provide guidance for effective information search strategies.
In the academy, we tend to place higher value on scholarly publishing in journals and books. These are some of the sources that are subject to formal editorial or peer review processes before being published.
While these academic or scholarly sources offer an important perspective in their respective disciplines, remember that there are other perspectives that are not represented in the conversation that takes place within academic journals or books. Other perspectives may be included in the conversation via broadcast, print or online journalism, for example, which are subject to editorial review.
Still other perspectives, including, but not limited to, those of marginalized populations, could be represented on social media, blogs, and a variety of other media and formats.
When you consult different kinds of sources, you discover a more complete conversation about a topic because different types of sources serve different purposes. In addition, each source may serve multiple overlapping purposes, which can mislead readers at times.
Authors or creators of sources may set out to:
Understanding the intended audience for a source is one consideration that can help you determine if a particular source will be useful. Consider the following audiences, although this is not an exhaustive list.
Consider your own intended audience and purpose as you write. Which sources would be most appropriate to support your purpose for writing?
Professionals and scholars often use specialized vocabulary or jargon. If you're searching for one term, but the professionals use a different term, you may be missing out on some really good results.
A. Search with a combination of keywords that came to mind. Pay attention to your results. Are there other terms used in the titles or descriptions of the sources in your results list?
B. Be mindful of bias (intentional or unintentional) in the keywords you use to search.
C. For argumentative papers, in particular, go beyond keywords such as "pro" and "con" or "for" and "against."
A. Take note of any relevant subject headings. This is one way to discover the vocabulary the professionals use to describe their article.
Subject headings are similar to hashtags. They describe the content of each item in a database. Use these headings to find relevant items on the same topic. Searching by subject headings (a.k.a. descriptors) is the most precise way to search article databases.
How is using subject headings different than keyword searching?
When using keywords
When using subject headings
Subject headings (or subject terms) look like this in your QuickSearch results:
B.Click on the title of an article you like. The subject terms become links for you to click and get to all the other articles in the database described with that subject.
They might look like this:
A. Use 2-4 keywords. The more keywords you use, the fewer results you retrieve.
B. Search all forms of a root word at once. For example, bank*=bank, banks, banking. Learn more with the Truncation link below.
B. Control your search by combining your keywords with AND, OR, NOT. Learn more with the Boolean Operators link below.
C. Is one of your keywords a phrase? Most databases allow you to specify that adjacent words be searched as phrases.
A. Too many results?
B. Too few results?
A. Having trouble finding the full text of the article? Watch the "How to Find Full Text" video, linked below.
If you are still having trouble accessing the full text, you can chat with a Wright State librarian online by clicking on the "Ask a Librarian" link below.
Now that you have some strategies in mind, employ them while finding sources in QuickSearch, an interdisciplinary database featuring a wide variety of resources about a wide variety of topics.
Writing in the disciplines? Consider using a more focused, subject-specific database to search for sources.