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Celebrating the Life
Find Background Information
If you're not very familiar with the topic you're writing on, look up some basic background information to give you an overview and help you identify keywords for searching. 
Brainstorming Keywords
Because library article databases have to be searched differently than Google, it's best to start by brainstorming keywords. Choose keywords which represent the main concepts of your paper topic. Then for each concept, choose a number of keywords, including synonyms and related terms.

Then combine them using AND and OR
  • AND narrows your search by looking for articles with all of the words
  • OR broadens your search by looking for articles with any of the words
Example: How does poverty affect health?


Concept 1


Concept 2



low income


socio-economic status


 This keyword tool lets you brainstorm online and send the results to yourself.

Find Articles Using Databases

Understanding the difference between popular and scholarly articles can help you choose the best sources for your assignments. Scholarly articles (in journals such as Psychological Review) are written by professors and other experts in a field, while popular articles (in magazines like Newsweek) are written by journalists. See this guide for more detail. 

This database includes articles from all areas of study as well as from popular sources.
These databases each focus on a specific area of study. Since many topics in your course are inter-disciplinary (studied by more than one discipline) you may want to search in more than one subject-specific database to get the best results.
  • PAIS: Political, social, and public policy issues. Scholarly articles as well as books and book chapters, conference proceedings and reports.
  • America: History and Life: Citations for articles on U.S. current affairs and history. Use the Find It @ UT button to read the article.
  • Sociological Abstracts : Find articles from sociology and related disciplines.
  • EconLit : Find articles and working papers from the field of economics.
  • ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) : Find articles and other research documents from the field of education.
  • Databases by Subject: Choose an academic discipline to see a list of databases relevant for that field. 
Find Books
www.lib.utexas.edu > Research Tools > Library Catalog
  • To find a book on your topic, start with a keyword search.
  • When you find a good title, follow the subject headings for more books on the topic.
  •  To locate the book, make sure you write down the entire call number, including the library that owns it.
  • Learn more in our Find Books tutorial.
Use Google Books to search the full text of books provided by publishers and libraries.  Find relevant book chapters and passages.

  • The full text will be viewable if the book is out of copyright. Books still under copyright may provide a preview of a limited number of pages or just a snippet.
  • When you find a good title, use the “Find this book in a library” feature to see if UT owns it or search for the title in the Library Catalog. (Some books don't include the "Find this book in a library" feature.)  When prompted, choose the second WorldCat option (not WorldCat Local).  If you're told we don't own the book when you use the "Find this book in a library" feature, doublecheck the book's availability by searching for the title in the Library Catalog.
Find Opinion/Editorial Articles
Different databases contain the full text of different newspaper titles for different years.  Your choice of newspaper and the years you want to search will determine which database you use.  

Use the chart below to determine the title and dates of coverage you want to start searchign and click the newspaper title below to be taken to the database.

Follow the search tips in the first columns to limit to a particular title and editorials.

Need help? Contact the course librarian, use our chat service, or visit the PCL Information and Research Help Desk-------------------------------------->

Database and Search Tips
Years of Coverage
LexisNexis Academic
Select Source > Or by Name: Newspaper Title
Most recent 6 months
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
Limit to editorials by choosing
“Document Type: Editorial”

General tips for finding opinion articles in newspaper and magazines:

Find more articles using these databases.

Find Legislation and Government Information
  • THOMAS: Legislative information from the Library of Congress at www.thomas.gov.
  • ProQuest Congressional: Find Congressional publications, including Hearings, Committee Prints, Reports, Documents and Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS Reports).
Evaluate Websites, Articles and Books
Popular Magazines vs. Scholarly Journals
This grid will help you distinguish between scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles and popular articles.  Compare your article with the components of a scholarly article.

How to Evaluate Books, Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers
This guide provides you with some criteria and tips for exploring the credibility of a source by assessing authority, accuracy, currency, objectivity, and purpose.

How to Evaluate Websites

This guide provides you with criteria and tips for evaluating the credibility of a website by assessing authority, accuracy, currency, objectivity, and purpose.

What is a Primary Source?
Learn more about what defines a primary source and how to find them.
Primary Sources
Primary sources are produced by participants or direct observers of an issue, event or time period.  These sources may be recorded during the event or later on, by a participant reflecting upon the event.

Some examples of primary sources include: 

Government Documents
Legal Documents
Public Opinion Polls
Research Data and Statistics
Oral Histories



Get Help
Contact the course librarian:

Meghan Sitar

Chat with a Librarian 
Monday-Thursday, 10am - midnight
Friday, 10am - 4pm
Sunday, 6pm - midnight

PCL Information and Research Help Desk

For Undergraduates
Write & Cite
UGS Drop-in Research/Writing Labs: Get research help from librarians and writing help from Writing Center consultants.  Just drop by PCL 1.339 in the basement of PCL during any of the following times:
  • Thursday, November, 8,  7pm – 9pm
  • Wednesday, November 14,  11:30 – 1:30pm
  • Tuesday, November 27,  7pm – 9pm