- Break your research question into key concepts (you'll connect these in your paper to make an original argument).
- For each of these concepts, brainstorm multiple keywords.
women's narration in Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were ...
Zora Neale Hurston
- Try this keyword tool to brainstorm online and send the results to yourself.
2. Combine keywords using AND and OR:
- Too many results? Try using quotation marks around an exact phrase. Ex: "Their Eyes Were Watching God"
- Still too many results? Narrow using AND. Ex: "Their Eyes Were Watching God" AND narrat*
- Too few results? Broaden using OR. Ex: "Their Eyes Were Watching God" AND (narrat* OR voic* OR tell OR tells)
- Put parentheses around synonyms.
- The asterisk finds multiple endings. Ex: wom* will bring back women, woman's, wombat, etc.
3. Brush up on the search tools available:
Learn about concepts, vocabulary, and events related to your texts.
Find keywords to search in subject-specific databases.
Here are some good places to start:
- Gale Virtual Reference Library. Subject-specific encyclopedias
- American National Biography. Biographical sketches of US authors.
- Dictionary of Literary Biography. Outlines of authors' careers with bibliographies and historical events.
- Oxford African American Studies Center. Search for author names, events, or themes.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB). Biographical sketches of British authors.
- Find more online encyclopedias purchased by the UT Libraries.
- Catalog search for your topic and encyclopedia, biography, or bibliography. Ex: "jane austen" AND (encyclopedia OR biography OR dictionary).
1. Choose a database or catalog.
Take a moment to think about who might be writing and publishing the kinds of material you need. Will it be in a newspaper? A scholarly journal? A personal letter? When was it likely published?
Look at the English Literature Research Guide and start by choosing one of the boxes in the middle.
Now click on the links to resources that might be useful.
If the resource is a database, the link will take you to a short description of the database. Does it still sound like it will have what you need?
To find more databases for other fields that may speak to your research, check out the list of Databases by Subject.
2. Use your keywords and your search strategies, discussed above, to run a search.
3. Now you'll need to review your list of results to find an article or book that will be useful to you. Are you looking for scholarly or popular or trade sources? Are you looking for primary or secondary sources? Check out this decision tree to help you Evaluate Books and Articles.
4. Found a reference to an article or book you want to read? Where is the article or book?
- Does the Catalog or database record you have found include full text? (Look for an HTML or PDF link.)
- If the Catalog, database, or index record you have located does not link to the full article or book, click the button to see if the full text is available electronically or, if you are not already in the Catalog, in print in the library.
- No button?
- Copy the name of the journal or book and search for it in the Library Catalog title search.
- Available? Take a look at the How to Find Books video tutorial to your right to learn how to find books on the shelf.
- Checked out? Use the link to shorten the due date and get an email when it's ready for you to use.
- Not in the Catalog? Ask for help or request it through InterLibrary Services.
5. Sometimes an encyclopedia entry, an article, or a book will list other articles and books that could be useful to you. This guide helps you find an article when you only have the citation.
6. Now use your article and catalog research to update your keywords and return to step 1.
At the Undergraduate Writing Center you can drop in or make an appointment to visit with a trained writing consultant.