WR121 Searching Techniques

Get your research started using Barber Library resources!
Protip: You will be asked for your 820# and last name, even when using Prineville campus computers!

In this tutorial, we will be using a general EBSCO database. EBSCO publishes a lot of different databases in a lot of different disciplines, and the library subscribes to a bunch of them. All EBSCO databases look the same, so you can use the same techniques whether you’re searching Academic Search Premier or Business Source Premier, MEDLINE or Newspaper Source (there’s still more!)

These tricks work in other library databases as well, even though they look different. If you’re confused about how to apply these techniques in a specific database, just ask a librarian!

Searching Techniques

To start, write out your research question. What are hoping to discover, prove, convince your reader of? Pick a topic you enjoy! You’re more likely to learn something about a subject that you are interested in, and it makes the class more fun!

If you can’t write your research topic as a question, it might mean that you need to define or narrow your topic further. For example, “Substance Abuse” is so broad you might write a book instead of a six-page paper! If you’re having trouble narrowing your topic, use these limiters:

  • limit your topic to a particular population or age group, such as infants, teenagers, college students, etc.;
  • limit your topic to a particular environment, such as schools or geographic region;
  • limit your topic by chronological era;
  • or limit your topic by a particular theory or approach.

Now you have your research question, ask yourself:

  • Can the answer to my question be found in a single source?
  • Is the answer to my question a simple “yes” or “no” answer?
  • Does my question require information contained in highly technical journals written in language I might struggle with?
  • Is my question so unusual or lacking of clear evidence that it would be difficult to research?

Start Searching!

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