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Engl 130: Research Hacks

Literature Review

Remember that the literature review refines your understanding of a topic based on a wide variety of sources, and helps you to define key questions in on-going public conversations. 

To be successful you need to collect a larger number of sources, but they need to be more specific than the ones you found for the annotated bibliography. In seeing how a topic is generally discussed, you conducted exploratory research in Academic Search Complete and other Ebsco databases. The advanced search skills you learned will come in handy as you use even larger search tools. 

Consider how your topic has narrowed, what aspect(s) of your topics do most of your current sources discuss, and what do you still want to learn more about.

Bonus: the library website can help you with citation! In addition to excellent research guides on citation managers and style guides, library databases can also export citations for sources you find. As a rule, you should always double check your citations for accuracy, but these tools can save a lot time and frustration as you begin learning about your topic.

Research Hacks: Digging Deeper

  • Check out the bibliography: Especially once you've located a solid source or two, take note of who they cite in their essays. Are there any names that come up again and again? Do any of the sources they cite sound like they'd help you learn more about your topic? When you find a potential source in a bibliography, make note of it and search for it in the UND databases -- we may just have it!
  • Cited by: Did you know that you can search for other authors who have cited a source you found particularly useful? Just as using a good source's references can lead to useful information, finding other articles who have cited a solid source  can provide you information that directly relates, or even responds, to the article you already have.
  •  Author name + keywords: If you notice an author's name show up over and over again in the sources that you run across, one way to level up your searches in the library databases is to pair the author's name with your keywords while searching. You may want to begin by just using the author's last name and then add the first name if your search doesn't return the results you expected. You may also find articles that agree or disagree with that author.
  • Use more specific search terms: remember to use the important words only and that the narrowing operator "and" is implied. Try adding terms such as benefits, impacts, barriers etc. depending on the aspects you're looking for.
  • Finding faster: The "find" command is a simple and powerful tool at your disposal, and it has many applications. In PC environments, press "Ctrl" and "F" to activate the feature, and in Mac environments, press "Command" and "F". You can use this feature to search for specific words or phrases on a website, to filter results in Google Scholar, to find keywords in the results you get in library databases, or even within articles. Once you've opened the PDF, simply use the Find feature to search for a term and it will show you every place that term appears. This is a great way to get to know a source before taking time to read it carefully!

Broader Search Tools

Broad search tools such as the Library article search or Google Scholar search many databases at once.  Since you are developing a more specific idea for your research and refining your broad concept, you may find these deliver more articles: