1b: Researching the
Almost every college subscribes to a list of academic
databases where more specialized, scholarly essays can be found.
To find these databases at AUC, go to the AUC
and choose Electronic Resources
survey the 80+ academic databases that AUC subscribes
to. Each of these databases specializes in different information.
For a writing class exploring general research topics, the following
four indexes are probably the most useful:
|(Note that at AUC, in
order to search the databases from your home, you will need
a dial-in account so that you can dial in directly to
the AUC server. Otherwise, you must use a campus computer
lab to access these databases.)
Academic Search Premier, one of a handful
of databases on EBSCO Host, is probably the most popular student
database (and the most costly for schools). On the search query
screen on Academic Search Premier, you can control the kind of
hits your search retrieves.
On the Advanced Search tab, you can also search
for keywords within a specific publication. This would be helpful
if you knew a good journal or magazine, but were unsure of when
it published an article on the topic.
is a bit different than other journals, in that every two weeks
a new issue dedicated solely to one hot, current issue is
published. One or two researchers produce all the content, and the
articles are mainly informational and journalistic rather than argumentative.
An issue of CQ Researcher will give readers an overview of
the issue, offer pro/con debates, present a history, list a bibliography
of sources, and so on. CQ Researcher's bibliography is an
excellent source for finding more sources -- you can plug some of
the titles into other academic databases or even the Internet itself
and often find the source. (Note: Because CQ Researcher is
single-authored, you should be careful that you do not quote too
much from it.)
To cite a source from CQ Researcher, click on the nifty
link on the top toolbar of the article and select MLA style.
A more academic journal, JSTOR has its articles stored as
.pdf files. These .pdf files can sometimes be large (1-2 megs) and
therefore take a long time to download. However, all articles within
the JSTOR database are quality academic articles, some perhaps
beyond the scope of what you're looking for. To read a .pdf file,
you must have Adobe Acrobat reader, which you can download
for free if your computer doesn't already have it. Before you
search on JSTOR, you have to first select which journals
you want to search.
The most common complaint students have about JSTOR is that the
essays are too long and difficult to read. In fact, reading from
JSTOR in contrast to the Internet will give you a good feel for
the difference between academic and non-academic sources. However,
when you use a source from JSTOR in your essay, despite the difficulty
perhaps in processing it, your essay will be much more credible
and scholarly. Of course be sure that you do understand and follow
up with commentary any passage you quote.
If you're looking for news articles, LEXIS-NEXIS is the database
to search. Keep in mind, though, that news articles aren't usually
scholarly articles; they mostly give current information about topics
-- not much analyses or argument. However, some of the longer feature
articles on LEXIS-NEXIS may be more scholarly. A newspaper article
will also often briefly allude to a more substantial source or study,
which you can then easily search for, knowing the particular title
or keyword phrases.
The LEXIS-NEXIS database seems to contain almost every newspaper
in the world -- hence, specifying the search queries to get the
returns you want can be a bit more complicated than usual.
First, select guided
Guided News Search (rather than the "Quick News Search"
tab). Choosing "Guided News Search" will yield much better
results than simply typing in general keywords into the "Quick
In the Guided News Search tab, follow the four steps for making
a more specific selection.
If you're having trouble
finding information on one database, try another. Mix up your keywords
or use different ones. If you get too many hits, try searching with
more specific keywords. If you don't get enough hits, search with
a broader keywords, or even just one keyword.
Finally, remember that
you are not limited to these four databases. There are dozens of
others that the library subscribes to. Scan down the list and see
if any others might be useful. These six are perhaps worth checking
- ERIC (EBSCOHost)
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Project Muse
- Sociological Abstracts
- ABI / Inform (Proquest)