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ESOL100 - Assignment Guide

Library Databases for Scholarly Articles

Steps for Searching a Scholarly Database

Step 1: Break Down Your Research Question

  • The best way to search a scholarly database like Academic Search Premier is to search for keywords.
  • Get keywords by breaking down your research question to it's most basic concepts.
  • For example, the following highlighted words are the basic concepts of your research question: "Governments should not invest so much in helping people live 100 years or longer.  An aging population will cause problems for society.  To what extent do you agree/disagree?"

Step 2: Identify Other Words that Mean the Same Thing

For each basic concept you identify from your research question, try to think of at least one other word for the same concept .This way you can experiment to see which words bring you the best search results. Use a thesaurus for help. Here are examples:

Other Words for "Governments"

  • United States government
  • world government
  • [insert specific country's name] government

Other Words for "Invest" / "Helping"

  • government policy
  • government services
  • help
  • investment
  • public finance
  • social services
  • support services

Other Words for "People Live 100 Years or Longer" / "Aging Population"

  • aging
  • elders
  • elderly
  • senior citizens
  • seniors
  • centenarian 

Other Words for "Problems"

  • challenges
  • pros and cons
  • issues
  • concerns

Step 3: Experiment with Keyword Searches

  • Combine the keywords you identified in Step 1 and Step 2, and try searching for them in the database.
  • Example: "united states government AND social services AND senior citizens AND challenges."
  • Keep trying different combinations of your keywords until you find useful results.

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