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Argumentative Research: Finding Articles

Student Learning Outcome: Locate argumentative research through appropriate library resources

Remote Access

All of the library's databases are available on or off campus. If you're using them off campus, you'll need to log in with your user name and password.

For off-campus access you'll need your UserID and Password:

User ID: 7-digit student number or faculty/staff Datatel number.

Password: First initial of your first name and up to six letters of your last name, all lower case with no spaces

General Reference Database

A reference database such as Credo provides access to hundreds of encyclopedias and dictionaries. This is a great resource to use if you're not familiar with a topic and want a brief introduction about something.

Pro/Con Databases

These pro/con databases are great tools to use for choosing a topic for a research paper. They can also help you narrow down and focus a topic.  

Article Databases

Once you've chosen a topic and narrowed it down, you can use a multi-subject database such as Academic Search Complete to find articles from magazines and scholarly journals.

Newspaper Databases

If you would like very current information on your topic, newspapers are a great resource to use to compliment and augment the scholarly journal articles you find. These newspaper databases provide access to a wide variety of local and national newspapers.

Search Techniques

When searching any source, there are many search techniques that can be used to make research more efficient and effective. These search techniques can be used in library databases as well as search engines such as Google. These search techniques are sometimes referred to as the 'mechanics' of searching. 

Below are some of the most common search techniques used by databases:

Boolean Operators are used to tell the database how you want your search terms or keywords to operate in the database. They're they equivalent to mathematical symbols such as ++-\times×\div÷.

  • AND - This boolean operator is used to connect two or more terms that must be in the articles you retrieve. Using AND will always DECREASE the number of results. For example, hollywood and diversity. AND is never used inside parentheses. 
  • ORThis boolean operator is used to connect two LIKE terms. Terms connected by OR MUST be inside parentheses. This technique is called nesting and is discussed further below. Using OR will INCREASE the number of results. For example, (hollywood or movies) and diversity. OR is always used inside parentheses. 
  • NOTThis boolean operator excludes terms. For example, health care reform NOT obamacare

Nesting is used to group search terms together. It essentially tells the database the order of operations. Nesting is only used with terms connected by OR. It is not used with terms connected by AND. For example (media or television or movies or internet) and (violence or aggression or brutality)

Phrase searching tells the database the exact phrase you'd like to search. Any time you wish to search for more than two words as a phrase, it must be in quotes for the database to understand that it's a phrase. If the terms aren't in quotes, the database will search each individual word, which will result in a large number of irrelevant results. For example, "health care reform"; "sexually transmitted diseases"

Truncation is a technique used to search for word variants. The truncation symbol can vary from database to database. However, the most common symbol is an asterisk *. Truncation is used at the end of a word and there's no limit to the number of letters that can be retrieved after the asterisk. Examples of truncation are: child* will retrieve child, childs, children, childhood, etc. Tech* will retrieve technical, technology, technologically.

Below is an example of a search statement that uses a variety of these search techniques:

(violen* or aggression or brutal*) and (media or television or movie* or "video games") and (child or kid* or youth or minor*)