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English 9 Choice Research Project: Databases

Start with databases

Always start your research with a good encyclopedia article. After you mine it for keywords, start searchng some other databases. Then you can move on to ebooks, print books and websites. 

Evaluate your source

Choose your sources carefully. Evaluate them using the key questions of media literacy:

  1. Who created the message and what is the purpose?
  2. What techniques are used to attract and hold attention?
  3. What lifestyles, values and points of view are depicted?
  4. How might different people interpret this message?
  5. What is omitted?

Search tips

Put quotation marks around words to search for the exact phrase.  
Example:  "the exact phrase" will give you those three words next to each other instead of all pages containing those three words anywhere in the document.

Skim and scan the first two results pages for as much information as possible before you decide to click on a source. Be strategic in what you decide to read. The first source is not always the best. 

Find the right keywords

Choose the words you use in search boxes purposefully. Your first keywords might not give you the best results. Try different strategies to generate keywords.

  • Broaden or narrow your topic. Use the broader and narrower keywords in searches.
  • Mine encyclopedia articles for words, names, places, and other keywords that seem important. Use those keywords in new searches.
  • Skim and scan the first two pages of search results for possible keywords.
  • In databases, scan pages for additional clues like subjects and related articles. Note the subjects and use those for more searches. Gale databases have a Topic Finder tool. Try that.
  • Keep a record of the keywords you have used. 
  • Ask your teacher or librarian for keyword suggestions if you're stuck.

Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias are the best place to start learning about your topic. You can "mine" articles for keywords. Look for proper names, places, and terms that are new to you. You can use these words in other sources to find more information.

 

News Sources

Searching newspapers for information can be tricky. If you're not finding the right information, your keywords need work.  Using names, places, dates and events is a good strategy.

 

General and Subject Databases

More places to find information on your topic.