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ENGL 1100: Writing I (Hoekzema): Getting Started

Useful Resources & Services

Your librarians, Renee and Asher, are available to meet with you if you would like additional research help or have questions about any of the library's resources and services. Simply contact one of them to schedule an appointment.

Chat with a librarian at our Research Help Desk:

Step 1: Plan a Search Strategy

Searching strategically helps you locate high quality and relevant information for your research. Think of your thesis statement and then identify keywords from that sentence.

For example:

Thesis: The pursuit of happiness in America is impeded by conflicting economic and social factors.

The red/underlined words are the big ideas or the keywords that can be used to find information to backup this argument. Notice that some of the words have been left out. This is because they may not be helpful for locating information. Some of those words are unnecessary because they are too specific and others reflect the opinion of the author.

To support this argument, we need information about Happiness, America, and how that's related to Economics and Social life.

We should also consider synonyms of some of our keywords to help us find even more information. Language and words matter when you're searching because writers use different words to describe or write about the same thing.

For example:

Economics: finance, money, business, wealth, salary, wages, status
Social: socializing, friends and family, coworkers, community

 

Keyword vs. Subject Searching

Almost every search we do online is a KEYWORD search.

This means search results will have your search term anywhere on the page. This is why you often get all kinds of unrelated results in a web search. Search engines don't group pages by subject, and aren't smart enough to know when you type "achilles" you mean the tendon and not the hero of myth, or vice versa. Searches would even return items written by John A. Achilles, or companies named 'Achilles'. Keywords hit on the string of characters you type, not the meaning.

Library resources, however, are organized by SUBJECT.

Every item in the library catalog or in a library database has been assigned specific Subject Terms. This means all the resources about Achilles the hero of myth are grouped and searchable together, under a different heading than resources about the tendon. Subject terms can be a more efficient way to search since they reflect meaning, but subject terms themselves are not always obvious or intuitive.

Not sure when to search with keywords, and when to search with subjects? Use this Quick Guide:

Step 2: Find Information

Information to support your argument/thesis can come from a variety of sources. Your assignment requires you to use a mixture of books, academic articles, and credible websites. Use the tabs on the top of this page (or click the links below) to get tips on locating information from these different sources.

Finding Books

Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

Finding Reliable Websites

Step 3: Writing and Citing

Now that you've found information to backup your thesis statement, it's time to write your paper and incorporate your sources responsibly. Use the tab Evaluating & Citing Sources to tips for using MLA and APA citation styles to give credit to the original authors so you can contribute to the scholarly conversation about your topic and, of course, to avoid plagiarism.

Librarian

Asher Jackson's picture
Asher Jackson
Contact:
HA-104, Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library, Hammond Hall
978-665-4869

Librarian

Renee Fratantonio's picture
Renee Fratantonio
Contact:
HA-106, Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library, Hammond Hall
978-665-4219