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D. Hiden Ramsey Library, University of North Carolina at Asheville

LANG 120: Academic Writing for Critical Inquiry - Dr. Dee James - Spring 2017: Research Basics

Keywords & Subject Headings

Keywords are terms that can appear anywhere in the description or record for a book or journal article, such as in titles, description, or full-text.

Subject headings are specific terms that are assigned to each item to describe the main focus of the book or article.

Use keywords and subjects to identify the key concepts of your topic.  Keep a written list of these terms.

Tutorials/How Do I?

Click here for tutorials and guides on how to use many databases and library services

Boolean Operators Video

A basic three minute introduction to Boolean operators And, Or, Not available on YouTube.

Create a Research Plan

What are the key concepts of your topic? Is there a way to broaden or narrow your topic? Sharpen your focus by:
  *time period,
  *specific event, or
  *specific people

Think of 2 -3 questions that you will explore.
  *Think about the who, what, where, when or how of your topic.
  *Does your topic overlap with other subjects such as science, geography or literature?

Under each question, think about the following aspects:
  *What do you already know about your topic?
  *What do you need to learn to better understand your topic?
  *What kind of information resources might provide the answer to these questions?

Consider your audience.
  *Who will read your paper?
  *Why will readers be interested?
  *What will be new to them?


Article Indexes and Databases

Boolean Logic

Boolean operators are words used to construct a logical search query. They enable you to boaden or narrow your search terms. Most databases use the Boolean operators and, or, and not and offer these options next to the search boxes when using the database's "Advanced Mode" search option.

OR searches for records that contain any of the terms. Example: A search for Airplanes OR Boats will retrieve records containing either term.

AND searches for occurrences of all of the search terms in a single record. Example: A search for Airplanes AND Boats will retrieve records containing both terms.

NOT searches for records that contain the first term but not the second term. Example: A search for Airplanes NOT Boats will retrieve records containing the first term but not the second term.