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ENG 102 - Affeldt

Links for Library Instruction Session

We'll use these links in today's library instruction session:

Scholarly vs. Popular

Brainstorming Keywords

Library Databases take a little more work to search than, for instance, Google. Breaking your topic up into key concepts prepares your topic to be searched in a library database. It also makes your research more efficient and decreases the chance that you'll be up at 3am wondering how the heck you found that one perfect article that is now lost.

Use the topic handout to keep track as you go along. (Here's a blank one you can print out.)

Example topic: Fast food causes health risks in children

Key concepts: 1) fast food, 2) health risks, and 3) children

Once you've broken your topic into key concepts, write those key concepts in the top box of two of the columns (see the example below). Then, brainstorm additional keywords to use in your search. Try to find at least a couple additional keywords related to each key concept. It's good to find synonyms as well as broader and more narrow keywords for concept.

Once you've brainstormed your keywords, you'll connect them together using the words AND and OR:

  • AND narrows your search by looking for items with all of the keywords.
  • OR broadens your search by looking for items with any of the keywords.

Once you've brainstormed your keywords, you can use them to search one of our databases (see below).

Best Bets for Researched Argument Paper

Quick access to Nielsen Library's best databases for issues-based research:

Best General Bets for all Paper Topics

Links to help you with Paper #3 and research assignments for all courses:

Critically Evaluate Your Sources

Content and Purpose

  • What is the source of information about?
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?


  • Who is the author/publisher/sponsor of the information/website?
  • What organizations is the author and/or sponsor affiliated with?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?


  • Where does the information come from? Is it supported by evidence?
  • Can the information be verified?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?


  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How useful is this source in comparison to other sources available?
  • Would this be a strong source to use in a research paper?


  • When was the content published? Updated?
  • Does the website have working links?
  • Does it matter if the information on the subject is current or not?