You will be able to:
Narrow Your Topic or Research Question
It's very common to select a topic or formulate a question that starts out too broad.
Question 1: How is family represented in The House on Mango Street? (broad)
When the scope of your topic is too big, it's hard to write a paper with any depth.
Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts. For example, family is a pretty broad topic, but looking at how parent/child relationships are depicted makes this topic more manageable.
1. Think about the main concepts of your topic. Extract these. e.g. stereotypes, religion, masculinity, narrative time, etc.
2. Then think about the specific terms that describe your main concepts. When you have a term such as religion, what other words or phrases might describe it or be examples of it? e.g. God, Catholic, parochial, Islam, etc.
Once you have some keywords associated with your topic AND you have found appropriate search tools/databases, you are ready to begin searching. Here are some basic search strategies to consider.
1. Look for a phrase by using quotation marks. This will make your search more specific. e.g. "gender identity"
2. Generate more results by joining synonyms or closely related terms together with OR. Remember OR means mORe.
Example: chican* OR "mexican-american"
3. Narrow results by adding dissimilar terms with AND.
Example: masculinity AND stereotype
4. Use the asterisk (in many search tools) to truncate a term. This will look for different endings of the same word. e.g. chican* will search for chicano, chicana, chicanos, etc.
5. Once completing a search, scan the results for other terms or phrases you may not have initially discovered. e.g. Searching for behavior principles may bring up cultural sensitivity.
6. View Subjects if available. These may also be called descriptors. These subjects are assigned to describe the citation/article. For example a descriptor in Academic Search Complete is Latin American Authors.
Try a search in a database that looks interesting and record what you were able to find on the spreadsheet.
What to include:
The VPN allows you to connect to the library's online articles and eBooks from off campus.
Visit library.ucmerced.edu/use/technology/vpn to download the VPN.
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