Academic Literacy: Humanities

Course #: BF299-BR

Choose keywords

  • Formulate a research question in order to focus your ideas about the topic. Please see our video tutorial on developing an effective research question
  • Write down the different concepts used in this question (“Plato” AND “ethics”)
  • For each concept, think of similar terms that you might also use (“ethics” OR “ethical” OR “moral principles”)
  • TIP: Find additional clues for terms in the titles and abstracts of books and articles
  • Locating the right combination of keywords takes time. You will need to go back and forth, revising the terms as you examine your search results
  • View our video tutorial on using keywords effectively

Find books

  • Search Laurier’s Primo library catalogue for books on your topic. The default search is both books and articles so choose the “books” tab if you want to eliminate articles
  • You can start with broad keywords (e.g. “Great Depression”) and then narrow down your results by clicking on one of the “refine your results” links on the left-hand side of the screen
  • For example, you can click on “economic conditions”
  • You can also limit your results to the Brantford campus and/or books published within a specific time frame
  • TIP: For additional books on a topic, click on the title of a book that looks pertinent, and then click on the subject link(s) for that book (under “details”)
  • TIP: You can also order a book from the other campus or the University of Guelph or the University of Waterloo. You can learn more in our video tutorial on requesting materials from other libraries. It will be sent to the Brantford campus at no cost and you will be notified by email when it arrives

Find articles

Find primary sources

  • Click on the advanced search link. Type in keywords that represent different aspects of your topic (each term in a different box). In a separate box, type the term that is most appropriate: “sources,” “documents,” “manuscripts,” “correspondence,” “diaries,” “interviews,” or “speeches.” Change the drop-down option from “any” to “in the subject”
  • Visit News Archives Online for links to our historical newspapers
  • The library also owns digitized resources via online databases. See the tab to primary sources in the History subject guide

Too many search results?

  • If you get too many search results, use narrower search terms (e.g. “The Lord of the Rings” instead of “Tolkien”)
  • Try adding more concepts to your search. Adding more terms that are linked by “AND” will decrease your number of search results

Too few search results?

  • Think in terms of broader categories (“Hemingway” rather than “The Sun Also Rises”)
  • Add alternate terms for each concept. Adding more terms that are linked by “OR” will increase your number of search results
  • TIP: Look at the bibliographies of the most pertinent books and articles on your topic. One author can often lead you to others in the field

Need assistance with writing the paper?

Create the bibliography

Need help with research?

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