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English 102: Notes from the Underground: Research Basics

This course guide was created specifically for Matthew Sheehan's Spring 2019 English 102 Classes

Planning for Research

Before you begin your research project, take some time to think it through and plan it out. Use the following questions below to develop a plan of action.

  • What is the main subject or topic of your research paper?
  • What is the secondary subject or topic of your research paper?
  • What are the keywords or key phrases that you will use in your research?
  • What are the related words, phrases, or synonyms that you might use in your research?
  • What type of research materials will you be looking for?
  • What limiters might you use to improve the focus of your research?
  • Which resources would provide the best quality and quantity of relevant materials?
  • How many sources, articles, books, or other materials, do you need?
  • How many citations will you be adding to your working bibliography?
  • If you have a question or are unsure about how to do any of these steps, do you know where to go and who to talk to?

What Research Databases Share in Common

What Research Databases Share in Common

At first glance, it may appear that databases created by different producers or publishers are very different. Those differences are mostly cosmetic, a way to distinguish one brand from another. Don’t let this confuse you. The truth is, when you peel away the design features, the underling structure is pretty much the same. Here are the shared aspects of these search engines.

  • One or more Boxes for you to enter your search terms.
  • A pull-down menu to give you choices where in the item record or the field where you want your search to take place
  • A selection of Boolean Operators (ex. AND, OR, NOT) so that you can create relationships between your search terms
  • A means of limiting your search with variables such as Language, Date of Publication, and Format.
  • An offering of options for displaying and saving your results.

Quick Guides to Information Quality

More on Information Quality

Popular Literature vs. Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Literature: What's the Difference?

Web page explaining the different kinds of literature.

Searching and Evaluating the Internet

Evaluate Web Pages (Widener University)
Tate and Alexander, librarians at Widener University, were pioneers in the art of formal Web page evaluation. They advocated five basic criteria (accuracy, authority, objectivity, coverage, currency) with variations in approach for different types of Web pages. This is an updated version of their work.

Thinking Critically about Web 2.0 and Beyond (Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library)
Presents an excellent checklist of criteria and questions relevant to Web page evaluation.

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