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UGS 302 - The Land Before Us - Bsumek

Research Strategies

Brainstorm Search Terms (Keywords)

Library databases and Google can't be searched the same way so take a few moments to come up with a search strategy before diving into a database.

Step 1:  Think about the key concepts of your topic and search those instead of an entire phrases or sentences.

Step 2:   Think of other terms you could use that are synonyms or related (they could be a broader or narrower aspect).  This often requires that you do a little background research to learn more.

‚ÄčStep 3:  Connect your terms using AND and OR:

Remember - 

  • AND narrows your topic (use AND between terms if you want them all to appear in your results)
  • OR broadens your topic (use OR between terms if you want any, not all, to appear in your results)

Follow the Research

This isn't about UT! Why you should use it anyway.

Even if your topic is not directly covered, you can often find important information and context about your topic.  For example, if you are researching a Confederate monument on campus, research about the history of Confederate monuments in the US would be important even though it may not mention UT or even the particular person the monument memorializes.

Evaluate your Sources

Consider the audience, purpose and author of your source when you are deciding if or how to use it.  

1.  Author: Who wrote it?  What is their expertise to write about the topic?  What bias or leanings do they have and how does that impact the source?

2. Audience: What audience is this source designed to address?  How does the audience impact the purpose of the source and type of evidence used to support the argument?  

3.  Purpose: What is the purpose of the source?  Is it intended to persuade, influence and/or inform? How, if at all, does the purpose affect the credibility? 

Try to Find it Online

We have millions of sources online, available on or off-campus (use your EID).  These includes articles and e-books.  If you are searching in a database and don't see the source you want right there, click Find itto see if it is in another database or available as an e-book.

Not Everything is Online

Some disciplines and topics, including history and local topics, rely heavily on sources that you won't find online.  Be prepared to get it in print.

  • If articles or book chapters are only in print in the Libraries or we don’t own them at all, you'll see the Get scanbutton. Click it to get the article or chapter scanned and emailed to you. This takes a few days.
  • Come into a library to use the print books.  Check out this guide to learn how.
  • Come into an archive or special collection to explore primary sources.  Dr. Bsumek will introduce you to many of them.

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