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UGS 302: Language & Communication: A Helping Hand - Meier

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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)

Find Articles

Not sure which search tool to use?

Use this table to decide whether to use a multidisciplinary or discipline-specific tool.

Type of Tool About Start Here


  • Include a range of sources (scholarly articles, magazine articles, books, patents, etc.) types from many disciplines
  • Useful if scholars from multiple disciplines would write about your topic or if you don't know where to start
  • Great for assignments in UGS!
  • One con is that you might be overwhelmed by the number of search results.


Academic Search Complete

Libraries Search Box




  • Include scholarly and specialized articles from a specific discipline
  • To choose a database, think about what department on campus would have scholars researching your topic (ex. PsycINFO for Psychology topics)

Databases List (use the "All Subjects" dropdown menu)


Where is the article?

If you don’t see a .pdf of the article you want, click Find it to find it in another database or in print in the Libraries.

If it is only in print in the Libraries or we don’t own the article, click Get a Scan to have the article emailed to you. This option could take up to 10 days during the pandemic. (Normally it just takes a few days.)

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