Develop a search statement to search databases (including news databases), the catalogue, and other academic sources
A search statement includes a list of keywords, combined using Boolean Operators (AND; OR; NOT)
- AND - this will combine concepts, all of which must be found in your list of results
- media AND children
- OR - either this concept or that concept (or both). This is helpful for generating a list of synonyms. Use synonyms to anticipate the different ways different authors may refer to the same idea. A thesaurus can be helpful for this
- internet OR web OR online
- NOT - do not include this concept
- Mexico NOT city
- Quote marks - find a specific phrase
- "human rights"
- Truncation - any other combination of letters to follow
- Canad* - will find Canada, Canadian, Canadian's, etc.
- journalis* - will find journalism, journalist, journalistic, etc.
- Combine one or more of these operators
- Put a list of synonyms in brackets
(smartphone OR "mobile phone" OR "cell phone") AND (societ* OR cultur*)
What are Keywords?
Keywords are words or short phrases that represent the main ideas in your research topic or question.
In Google, you can search using full sentences. Library databases are not as smart as Google and do not understand full sentences, spelling mistakes or conversational language.
Instead, you have to consider the words that authors are using the write about a topic.
To come up with keywords, identify the most important words in your research question or topic.
- State your research question or topic.
Do video games increase violence in teens?
- What are the key concepts? Think nouns and noun phrases.
Do video games increase violence in teens?
- List related terms
- Consider how different people or communities talk about the concept.
- Consider how language has changed over time.
- Think of broader terms, narrower terms, or synonyms.
4.Consider Using Some Search strategies
- " "quotations to search phrases.
- * an asterisk to find word variations.
- AND, OR, NOT to combine terms.
Example: "video games", teen*, aggression OR violence
Consider these questions to generate more search terms
- WHO: Who is involved? Whom does it effect? Is there a specific population you will focus on?
- WHERE: Where did it begin? Do you want to focus on a specific geographic region?
- WHEN: When did it begin? Do you want to focus on a specific timeframe?
- WHY: Why does it matter? Why do you think we should investigate?
Try different search combinations and strategies! The process is iterative.
Specialized Biographical Reference resources
- Encyclopedia of world biography
- Oxford Dictionary of Political Biography Who's Who in Twentieth-Century World Politics
- Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Modern Political Biography
- A dictionary of political biography
Nexis Uni - Includes the Who's Who books.
Do a search for "biography" in the following eBook sources
Words to include
For a biographical research topic, you would want to include, at the very least, the person's name.
Use quotation marks
If the surname is common, you can optimize your search by putting quotation marks around the full name. Using quotation marks will ensure that the database finds results that use that exact name.
Found too many results?
Add more keywords
If you find that you are retrieving too many results, try adding more keywords to further narrow your topic.
"Vladimir Putin" and biography
Look for more background information
Search the free Web for background information on a person, but be sure to authenticate any information you find with a scholarly source from a library database or the library catalog. Wikipedia may have many useful links at the bottom of the entry.
You are responsible for ensuring the academic content of the documents that you use. Consider carefully how you will assess the information that you find. You may wish to find answers for these questions:
- is the author affiliated with an academic institution?
- is a biography available for the author from a trusted (reference) source?
- what is the reputation of the author?
- is the article peer-reviewed?
- who has cited (used) this article in other research?
- is the web site associated with an educational institution?
- is there a physical address associated with the web site / author?
Pick a research topic:
- Read your syllabus (assignment instructions).
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the assignment instructions.
- Narrow or broaden the scope of your topic so that it is "doable."
What's scope? Scope refers to the "people, places and things" or "who, what, when and where" that you are studying.
Identify key concepts:
Define and get an overview of your topic or find definitions of key terms and concepts:
- Oxford Reference - Use dictionaries to help with terminology. Encyclopedias provide background information, an overview of topics and issues and often lead you to further readings
- Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (online)
- The Longman handbook of twentieth century Europe
- Eurasianism and the European far right: reshaping the Europe-Russia relationship
- Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or Corrective for Democracy?
- Populism and World Politics: Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions
- Putin's Russia
- The Routledge companion to fascism and the far right
- Nation Building : Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart
- Europe's role in nation-building from the Balkans to the Congo
- Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics (online)
- EIU.com (country information)
- Europe since 1945: an Encyclopedia (online)
Think Tanks - can give an appreciation of government action or inaction in an area, they are research institutes which perform research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture.
OMNI Search engine located on the library home page
use filters on the left hand site and narrow down to:
- Books and select option "Available online"
Why use journal articles?
- They are more up-to-date than most books.
- They are “peer reviewed” by other scholars in the field who check for academic integrity.
- Every article will contain cited references that appear as footnotes and/or bibliographies.
OMNI Search engine located on the library home page, allows you to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more.
See our list of recommended databases on the European, Russian, and Eurasian studies subject guide, which includes:
- American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies
- International Political Science Abstracts
- PAIS Index
- Historical Abstracts
- Taylor & Francis Journals Online
This guide provides basic information on how to cite sources and examples for formatting citations in common citation styles.
You do not need to cite common knowledge (widely-known, generally-accepted information that is not attributable to one source).
Why is Citing Sources Important?
- To give credit to ideas that are not your own
- To provide support for your argument
- To enable your reader to find and read the sources you used
- To avoid infractions
What Needs to be Cited?
- Exact wording taken from any source, including freely available websites
- Paraphrases of passages
- Summaries of another person's work
- Use of another student's work
- Use of your own previous work
Additional research help resources
- Research and Writing in International Relations
- The craft of research
- Conducting your literature review
- Mining social media : finding stories in internet data
- A student's guide for writing in political science
- Research Methods in Politics: A Practical Guide