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Terrorism in Literature

Course Number: EN450Q

Subject: English


This guide accompanies an in-class workshop about doing research for your presentation and term paper assignments.

OBJECTIVE: apply library research methods to engage with scholarship about your topic.

Questions? Contact the English & Film Studies Librarian, Meredith (


Library Research Methods

Library research methods are strategies, techniques, and tools you use to find and work with existing scholarship. They involve asking:

  • Where are the best places to search?
  • What search tactics will help get good results?
  • How might you identify key scholars and assess scholarship?

The methods you use depend on the project at hand. Doing a term paper is different from doing a smaller assignment that tells you exactly how many sources to cite.


Example Research Paper

The research paper below demonstrates what library research methods can help you achieve.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Library Research

Without library research methods, searching can feel like a "shot in the dark." What feels more like a "black box" these days than AI? This is an emerging aspect of library research methods.


Defining AI

  • AI is a branch of computer science that uses machine learning and training data to develop ways for computers to simulate intelligent behaviour (e.g., problem solving). 
    • Generative AI responds to prompts with text, images, or other media. 
      • ChatGPT is an example of generative AI. It is a large language model that natural language processing to give human-like responses.


Key Considerations

  • "AI hallucinations" are incorrect results, like when ChatGPT invents references that don't exist. 
  • Understanding the training data behind these tools is critical. Even large sets of training data are biased in different ways.
  • Training data has cutoff dates. Information that you could have discovered outside the tool will be excluded.
  • There is no assessment of the quality of information cited in the output.


Example Tool

Connected Papers - Use one paper to find other papers of interest and create a visual map of sources. Find out how it works.

What You Should Do

  1. Aways consult with your instructor if you're thinking about using AI in an assignment.
  2. Inform yourself about a tool before using it. Be aware of a tool's strengths and limitations.
  3. Understand that if you use words or ideas you get from an AI tool like ChatGPT, you need cite. Remember, plagiarism means representing work that you didn't do as your own. See Citing Use of AI.
  4. Acknowledge any use of AI tools in your work. See Acknowledgement Statements for Students with Examples.


Understanding Plagiarism



Developing Your Methods

A. Where You Search Matters

Different search tools (Omni, Google, etc.) are built to do different things.


Activity: Comparing Search Tools

  1. Copy the following term: secret agent conrad 
  2. Paste it into the tools below and hit search.
  3. Answer these questions:
    • How many results did you get in each place?
    • What are the dates of the first 3 results in each place?
    • What journals are the first 3 results from?


B. Search Tactics Improve Results

What is the tactic?

What does the tactic do?


Phrase searching

Use β€œquotation marks” to find more than one term in a row.

"state-sponsored terrorism"


Use an asterisk* at the end of a term to include multiple endings.


Boolean AND

Use AND to ensure that all terms appear in every search result.

terrorism AND religion

Boolean OR

Use OR to ensure that at least one term appears in every search result.

violence OR aggression


Activity: Applying Search Tactics

Would one of the tactics above help improve the search from our previous activity (secret agent conrad)?


C. Talk Back to Scholarship

Synthesis Matrix

  • A synthesis matrix can help you understand what you're reading and compare conversations between scholars. How will you and your term paper fit into the matrix?


Choosing Sources

  • It's common to read more than you cite when working on a research paper. That means you'll need strategies for selecting what you end up including in your paper.


Reading Strategies

  • Reading research is an ongoing practice to cultivate, not something you learn to do once and master. How might you enhance your reading practices?



MLA Citing



Contact Meredith, the English & Film Studies Librarian (

Page Owner: Meredith Fischer

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Last Updated: January 15, 2024 1:05pm