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SOAN 357


Now that you have explored your topic and have formulated a working research question, its time to use the your newly formed keywords to find the scholarly sources that you are going to use to build the arguments for your research project. 

Some things to keep in mind as you search:

  • Stay flexible. 
    • Searching is a process. It is likely that you will not find exactly what you are looking for on your first search. Try different keywords and different combinations. 
  • There is not one perfect source.
    • It is very unlikely that you will find one article or book that will say everything that you want to say in your paper (if you do, you might want to consider refining your topic to write on a more original research topic). Consider the types of arguments you could make on your topic. How can you find a resource about the individual topics that you could then combine in your paper? 
  • Ask for help. 
    • Librarians are here to help. You can email me directly at or email the reference desk at, call at 740-368-3225, or chat with us on the library's homepage. 

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Words Matter - Keywords and Bias

The words we use to describe what we are looking for directly relate to what we find. If you are searching with terms that only one group of people uses to describe an issue, you will only find resources written by these people. 

For example:

What do you call a sugary, carbonated beverage? 

Depending on where you are from, you'll likely use words like pop, soda, or coke. If you search for articles with google using these words, you'll likely find articles from various parts of the country, because journalists will use the terms that their audience is familiar with in their writing. 

However, if you try to search for pop or soda in one of the Library's scholarly databases, you will have a hard time finding what you are looking for. This is because scholars don't tend to refer to these sugary beverages as colloquial pop, soda, or coke. They tend to use more formal language where "soft drinks" is the keyword that you will want to use when looking for scholarly articles on soda pop. 

What you can do:

  • Run multiple searches with a variety of terms. 
  • Review course readings for terms used
  • Evaluate the sources you find for bias
  • Consider using a Boolean "Or" search. (What's that? Take a look)