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CMP102 - Composition 2 - LeBlanc: Research

Searching Databases

Your assignment asks you to create a research question that will be the focus of your inquiry based paper.  A good research question should be focused while allowing for analysis of an idea not just answering a factual question.

A good research question will help you avoid two common research paper pitfalls: the "all about everything" paper and the factual question that can be answered in one or two sentences.

Your research question will also give you your starting keywords for research.

Here is an example using one of the template research questions for this assignment:

How does Julie Alvarez  teach us about the immigrant experience through the use of particular writing techniques in her work?

In this example, your first two keywords are: Julia Alvarez and immigrant experience.

From there, you can generate more keywords by thinking of synonyms or associated words. Instead of searching "immigrant experience," you could try immigrant, immigration, emigrant, emigration, migrant, or migration.

Background Reading

Once you chose your writer, your first step will be to some background reading to familiarize yourself with your writer's life, body of work, and common themes your writer wrote about.

Biography in Context is a biographical database that brings together information on an individual from many different sources. You will have access to biographical information, as well as academic papers, and newspaper and magazine articles. Doing background reading will give you a sense of who this person was/is, what they are best known for, and common themes in their work. If there are many sources on your writer, you may have a landing page that brings the information together and organizes it for you by type. For example, click here to see the landing page for August Wilson.  For writers with few sources, you will be given a google like list of results.

Search the Library catalog to find writings by your author that we may have in print or electronically. Reading from your writer's body work will give you a sense of their common themes and literary style. 

Literature Databases

Literature Databases are good places to find academic articles, literary criticism,  summaries and overviews, and thematic articles about your writer and their work.

These subject specific databases will give your far fewer results that our SNAP! search but the results will be more focused.

SNAP! Search

Try our new Snap Search to look for resources on your topic. Here, you will find books, academic journals, videos, newspapers, magazines, and more from most of our databases. In some cases, you might need to search individual databases but most often this will give you what you need.

Use the EDS limiters to narrow down your results by selecting source types, subjects, date ranges and more. These limiters will be located on the left side of your results.

You can also use the Advanced Search to refine your search results. 

eds advance search

The TX All Text option will give you more results by searching the full-text of the document for your search terms. Use caution with the other options in this list, they may not do what you think they should. For most searches, it's best not to select an option. Use the TX option when you don't get any or many results.

Begin your search using some of our book sources. These databases contain articles and chapters from books that cover literary topics.

Continue your research using our article databases where you can find more in-depth and specific information on titles, authors, and themes.

Also, try some of our general databases for more information on your topic. These databases contain some different sources than those listed above that can be useful. Most of these have an option to narrow your results to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles.