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EN111: English Composition I

Dan Gocella

Library Resources

Library Catalog: The library catalog catalogs (naturally) books, periodicals, government documents, and audiovisual materials that Olson library owns. To find magazine or journal articles, use the resources listed below.

MLA Style Guide This is a basic guide - if you have any questions come up to the reference desk and we'll help you figure it out.

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles: Not all articles are the same. The majority of articles that you need to use for your research and assignments must be scholarly articles (sometimes also called "peer-reviewed"). This guide tells you how to critique an article and decide if it's scholarly or not.

Journal Articles

In general, article databases are grouped around particular subject areas, so the key to finding pertinent articles is to choose the correct database. You can find a list of databases grouped by subject here, or, you can always ask the librarian at the reference desk to help you find the right database.

Here are some article databases that are more "general" in that they collect articles from many different subject areas in one database:

JSTOR: Complete, searchable, full text articles from over 1,000 core scholarly journals, spanning from about 1878 to the most recent 1-5 years.

Academic Search Complete: Journal articles from more than 8,000 scholarly and general periodicals across all fields of study. Indexing from 1980 to present; full-text from 1989 to present.

Keyword Searching

Keyword searches can be used in the library catalog and article databases. They are important because they allow you to find materials without knowing the title or author. Keyword searches combine words that describe the integral concept of your subject on which you want to find materials.

Trent University in Canada has a good on-line tutorial for keyword searching if you get confused or want more help.

For example, say you're going to write a paper arguing that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. Some of the keywords for this subject could be:

"drinking age," "legislation," "law" and "lowering" or "lowered."

(Legislation and law are implied by the subject statement since drinking age is determened by state legislation.)

**Note: If you need to present the opposite position in your paper, using the antonyms of your keywords to do searches would be very helpful.

Remember, you have to command the database to do the search in a particular way -- the way that will provide you with relevant search results. This is done by combining keywords using the Boolean Operators and, or, not.

AND: Retrieves all keywords. Example: doing this search "drinking and age and lowering" tells the database that it should look for all three of these terms in the item record.

OR: Retrieves records that have either one of two search terms. Example: "North America or United States" tells the database to retrieve records that have "North America" or "United States."

NOT: Tells the database to ignore records that have a certain term. Example: "Twins not Minnesota" This search would retrieve articles that have the term "twins," as in the biological phenomena, not the baseball team.

These operators make it possible to do effective searches in almost any type of database. So, for the example above, a keyword search might look like this: (drinking age) and legislation, or lowered and legislation and (drinking age), or (drinking age) and lowered or lowering.

***If you get zero results you either need to expand your search by using a more general keyword and/or using synonyms for your keywords. If you get too many results, your search should be narrowed by adding keywords to make the search more specific. For example, if your initial search was just on "drinking age" you could add other keywords that would more closely describe your topic, as in the search examples above.***

Getting Help

If you're having problems finding materials for your assignment and want to ask a librarian for help, just come up to the reference desk. Or, you can get help via chat here


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