Essays, major assignments and other projects can be a drag when it comes to finding academic articles or other research materials. Search Engines – such as Google, Bing, and Super Search – can be hard to navigate if you aren’t sure of what you are looking for. Finding secondary sourcescan be simple and quick if you use these tips! (I will be using Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an example).
1. Have an idea of what you are looking for:
If you go to a search engine and simply type “Frankenstein” into the search bar, the amount of results will be through the roof. In direct searches bring up anything that uses the word “Frankenstein”, including book reviews, academic journals, movies, and even the original Frankenstein text itself.
Having an idea of what you are looking for will help you in the long run because it will help narrow the search down to sources that could potentially help you. A great way to get an idea is to look for keywords in the instructions your instructor has given – if applicable. Instead of focusing on “Frankenstein”, try focusing on “Trauma in Frankenstein”.
2. Narrowing your search further:
On super search, you can use a slider to shorten the amount of years that will be searched for your topic. Using recent sources is great because recent information is never a bad choice, but don’t let that discourage you from using an article a few years older. Similarly on Super Search, if you are looking for an academic journal, you can select an option that will only bring up scholarly articles that have been peer-reviewed.
3. Finding similar results:
Using certain key words will help narrow down the search. For Instance:
Trauma AND Frankenstein: will find articles that have both the words trauma and Frankenstein in it!
Trauma* and Frankenstein: The asterisk will find words that are similar to the word that is starred, meaning trauma, traumatic, etc.
4. Don’t only look for sources that agrees with your thesis:
When finding an article, the argument that the author makes does NOT have to agree with what you are arguing, because the last thing you want to do is restate the authors argument. Find an article that is similar to your argument, and use your secondary source to prove your argument. This could save you from plagiarism in the long run!
5. Google is NOT always your friend:
I know, I know. Google has saved everyone on that assignment that they procrastinated, but Google can be frustrating when it comes to finding sources for assignments. For instance, Google Books does give you access to books that can come in handy for research; however, the full book will not be there and may leave out what you are looking for. If this is the case, try looking for that specific article on super search or any other database.
Now take these few tips, get off Netflix and go and finish that last assignment! End the year off right, badgers! If you still need extra help, always visit the help desk at the library! We’re on the home stretch, Badgers! The General is home and soon you will be too!