Skip to main content
University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

UGS 303 - Modernity, Anxiety and the Art of the Uncanny - Richmond-Garza

Start your Research

Find Background Information

If you use Wikipedia as a first step in your research, you are already using background information to get started with research.  Background information helps you:

  • choose a topic
  • pre-research your topic
  • learn more about theories and concepts
  • get biographical information about writers, musicians and artists
  • learn more about historical and cultural contexts of the works you are studying
  • find key terms you can use to search for additional sources

Please note: Wikipedia and other background information sources are not considered scholarly sources but instead provide you with a starting place to do more effective research for scholarly sources.

Brainstorm Search Terms (Keywords)

Library databases have to be searched differently than Google. You will search using concepts and keywords rather than phrases, so it is important to brainstorm a list of keywords to use as you search. 

Choose keywords that represent the main concepts of your topic. Then for each concept, think of additional keywords, including synonyms and broader and narrower related terms. If you're getting too many results, think of other terms that narrows the topic. If you're getting too few results, think of terms that broaden your topic.

Here's an example:

The role of women, especially female sexuality, in Dracula.

Bold key concepts, then use them to brainstorm more keywords.  Separate synonyms and related terms with OR - you'll take articles with any of those terms.  Separate your key concepts with AND - you need all of those topics to be present in a relevant article. Illustrations of AND and OR

Concept 1:  women OR female sexuality OR chastity

Concept 2:  Dracula OR Bram Stoker OR Victorian culture

Avoid keywords like "effect," "pro/con" and/or "cause," -- these terms fail to provide the precision you need in developing an efficient database search.  Instead, consider the concepts that would need to appear in an article for it to contain information relevant to your topic. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.