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Get Started with Research

2. Use Library Materials

Curious about why you should use a database instead of Google?  Review this video or accessible transcript to find out more!


Databases by Subject

Use these tabs to find the best databases and online resources to use for specific research topics within the disciplinary areas.  If you cannot find what you need here, please try choosing from Drake's Research Guides by Subject, which also offer suggestions for books and other resources.

If you are uncertain where to start, choose one of the databases listed in the General/Multidisciplinary tab of this box. Use the good search terms you developed in the Brainstorming process, and develop a research focus using the tips in the video (or transcript) below.  

This video refers to a process called "peer review."  If you are unfamiliar with this, please review the materials on the Evaluate Web Resources tab of this research guide for more detailed information.  

Use this search box to find books, ebooks, DVDs, streaming videos, and other materials the library owns.

Did you get too many results? 

If so, try some of these ideas to narrow down your results:

  • Narrow by dates (only newer, older, or a specific range of dates)

  • Narrow by type of source (peer-reviewed journals, magazines, etc. based on the assignment’s guidelines)

  • Add another of the search terms you listed above, connecting the two with the “AND” provided in the database’s Advanced Search

  • Using the database’s Advanced Search option, change “AND” to “NOT” to exclude terms you don’t want (ex. “Pride and Prejudice” NOT film)

  • Put any multi-word phrases into “quotation marks” to prevent other words from coming between them

Did you get too few results? 

If so, try some of these ideas to expand your results:

  • Using the database’s Advanced Search, enter 2 search terms that are synonyms, connecting them with the word “or” (ex. film OR movie)

  • Enter your main topic as a Subject Search. Look at the subdivisions or subjects given to you to get new ideas for better search terms (find out what the database is calling it).  A Subject Search is available in some databases as a drop down menu item, and in others as a separate tab.  You can think of subject searching as "big picture" searching, as opposed to keyword, or "details" searching.  An example is "dogs" is a subject, whereas a specific breed would likely be a keyword.  

Below you will find optional worksheets to help you improve your library research skills.

Tips for Reading Academic Sources

Don’t just highlight- annotate:  If you want to use a highlighter, make sure you also include a note in the margin about why you are highlighting these particular words.  What does this passage mean in the context of your argument or point? 

Be skeptical:  You don’t have to agree with or believe everything the author says. 

Read it again:  If you are struggling with a certain reading, or a sentence or passage within a reading, reading it a second or third time might help.  (and guess what- your professors sometimes do this too!)  If it helps, give yourself a different purpose or guiding question each time you read it. 

Give yourself time to absorb it:  These readings are difficult.  That’s all there is to it. 

Last Updated: Oct 4, 2023 9:32 AM