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When keyword searching, use key words that best describe your topic.The objective is to get a small group of relevant records.People, places themes, characters, time periods, events, types of information (e.g., ethnography, interview, etc.) issues and more can be key words.What words or phrases best describe your topic?
For locating primary source material, consider these “subject keywords”: sources, documents, personal narrative, documentary history, archives, manuscripts, correspondence, speech*, oration, statistics, cartoon*, interview*, oral history*. "Sources" is the Library of Congress subject heading for primary source materials.
Evaluate your search results.Click on the title to view the entire record, including chapters and subject headings. If you don’t see related materials in the top 10-20 items of your search results, reconstruct your search using alternative keywords, synonyms, narrower terms, more terms, etc.
Note the citation/source information (journal title, volume #, issue #, and date). The citation is the most important information in the database record and is required to locate the article text, online or in print.
Raid bibliographies.Books and articles have bibliographies and references.Use them so you don’t have to spend hours database searching.
In the library, like materials are shelved together.When looking for a particular book on the shelf, also scope out what’s shelved next to it.Books and back issues of periodicals are inter-filed on the shelves in call number order.
Consult a librarian. We work across the disciplines, will refer you if necessary, and can help track down sources, explain library services, interpret citations and find the most useful keywords. TheAsk a Librarian service provides 24/7 access to a librarian.
The Research Process is Complex
The research process is complex -- it's not just you. Learn more about what to expect about the research process in the video below.