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Research Guides

WRIT 116: Writing in the Distracted Age

Welcome!

I hope this guide will provide some useful starting places for your research, as you work on your sourced papers. I'm available and happy to consult with you about any part of the research process, from finding and evaluating sources to understanding how to cite them. You can email me (kstorz@wellesley.edu) or make a Zoom appointment on my calendar: bit.ly/storzappt. We can also arrange a time for a text chat — whatever works for you!

Karen​ Storz, Research & Instruction Librarian

Get Started with SuperSearch

SuperSearch can be a great place to start your search for journal articles, books, films, newspaper & magazine articles, and almost everything else the library has, in one easy to use interface. You can use the filters on the results screen to refine your search and improve your results. For example, try limiting to Full Text Online, and then Book/eBook to see e-books. Or choose Peer-Reviewed Article to find scholarly journal articles, or Encyclopedia Articles & More to find background sources. Click More... to see all content types.

 

Because SuperSearch contains so much content from so many different kinds of sources, the results can sometimes be overwhelming and hard to focus. At the same time, SuperSearch is also not comprehensive and can miss key sources. To search with more focus, precision, and depth, be sure to try the databases recommended on this guide.

For more on how to search, see the Search Tips & Tutorials page of this guide.

Key Databases

Databases can contain a combination of full-text (ready to read online) and citation information that can lead you to articles, book chapters, or books. Some databases, like Academic Search Complete, are multidisciplinary. Others, like PsycINFO or GenderWatch, focus on specific subjects such as psychology or women's and gender studies. The databases here are just a few that could be useful for the kinds of research topics you might be pursuing in this course. Check out our Database A-Z list and sort by Subject to see other relevant databases. It's always a good idea to search in more than one database. 

Unsure about what database to use? Ask me!

Search Tips

These search tips work in SuperSearch and most library databases.

Use quotation marks " " to search words as a phrase. This will narrow your results.

"self esteem"

Use AND to combine multiple concepts in your search. This will narrow your results.

selfie AND "self esteem"

Use OR to find different ways your topic could be expressed. This will expand your results. Group these related terms in parentheses, so the database interprets them first. The following search will find results that have either one of the phrases in parentheses along with selfie.

selfie AND ("self esteem" OR "body image")

Use an asterisk * to find variant endings (e.g., gender, gendered, feminine, femininity, etc.). This will expand your results, because again, you're providing more options.

selfie AND (gender* OR "sex role" OR feminin* OR â€‹masculin*)

Peer Review

Many databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. Learn about peer review in this short video (from the University of Kansas Libraries).

Critically Evaluate Your Sources!

Here are some criteria to keep in mind when choosing and using both print and online sources:

  • Accuracy - What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced? Does the author cite their sources and are the sources legitimate?
  • Authority - Who wrote the source? Is the author credible? What are the author's credentials (educational background, past writing, experience) in this area? Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies? Who published the source? Is the publisher scholarly (university press, scholarly associations)? Commercial? Government agency? Is the source self-published (“vanity”press)? For online information, check the domain of the document — what institution publishes this document?
  • Objectivity - Does the author have a bias – political or commercial or persuasive?
  • Currency - Is this information new or based on outdated sources? Can you tell how current it is? How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • Audience - Who is the information written for: a specific readership, level of expertise, or age/grade level? Is the audience focus appropriate for a research paper?

 

Unsure about a source? I'm happy to help!!

Finding Sources on a Very Recent Topic

This guide from Ryerson University provides a great example of some ways you might use sources when writing about a very recent topic, especially if there isn't much scholarly work on the topic yet.

Interlibrary Loan

Can't find what you're looking for at Wellesley?   ILL will get it for you!

  • Request articles, books, book chapters, media, & more
  • Search WorldCat and request titles from libraries worldwide
  • See the ILL guide