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Research 101

Your starter-kit for college-level research at Kennedy Library. Advance your research skills with the self-guided tutorials and videos below.

Contemporary or Controversial Topics

Databases (besides OneSearch)

Search Strategies

  • Find Current Information: pay attention to the date of publication. The currency/timeliness of sources is important.
  • Start with broad search terms: refine your topic by using more specific subject/topic terms associated with relevant articles that you find.
  • Look for Multiple Sides and Viewpoints: Think of it as listening to a conversation. In this case, an academic conversation.

Cal Poly / Local Information

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Search Strategies

Connect (synthesize) sources that connect the broad issue or problem with the local context.

  • Search the scholarly and popular literature about the broad issue or problem. For example, free speech on college campuses.
  • Search local sources (Mustang News, SLO Tribune, Cal Poly website) for local viewpoints and information. For example, controversial speakers at Cal Poly.

ENGL 149 Recommendation Report

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Engineering/Technical Topics:
Other Topics:

Search Strategies

For a more precise search, identify database-specific subject headings (also called subject terms or index terms) to use in addition to concept keywords. In some engineering databases, like Engineering Village, subject headings are referred to as controlled vocabulary. 

ENGL 149 Translation Assignment

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Engineering/Technical Topics:
Other Topics:

Search Strategies

For a more precise search, identify database-specific subject headings (also called subject terms or index terms) to use in addition to concept keywords. In some engineering databases, like Engineering Village, subject headings are referred to as controlled vocabulary. 

Newspapers

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Examples:

Citing an Article in a Newspaper (MLA 8th Edition)

Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper, Publication Date, Edition, Page Number(s).

Krugman, Andrew. "Fear of Eating." New York Times, 21 May 2007, late ed., p. A1.

Object Speech Assignment

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Search Strategies

Always look at a source with a specific goal in mind. In this case, we care about informative details.

  • Find a topic. Use a source like Google to find a newly discovered species or something that just interests you.
  • Try to find the basics. Newly discovered species tend to be better for an object speech because there is new research on it. Just because it is new to you, does not mean there will be new research on it.
  • Don't be afraid to try again. If you are struggling to find information on your object, or you can't find anything from the last five years, pick a new object.

Analyze a Speech

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Search Strategies

Find an article that either:

  • Generally theorizes about rhetorical appeals used in the speech.
  • Makes a claim about the speech or speaker.

Informative Speech

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Library Databases for articles and book chapters:
Library Databases for Background Sources:

Search Strategies

Always look at a source with a specific goal in mind. In this case, we care about informative details.

  • Find current information. Pay attention to the date of publication. The currency/timeliness of sources is important.
  • Start with broad search terms. Refine your topic by using more specific subject/topic terms associated with relevant articles that you find.
  • Look for multiple sides and viewpoints. Think of it as listening to a conversation.

Conspiracy Theories

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Search Strategies

Think about how you will engage with the information source. What is your purpose for using it to research the conspiracy theory?

  • Using a source to provide general information about the topic. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
  • Using a source as evidence or example to analyze. For example, sources that believe the conspiracy theory. These do not need to be credible to be analyzed and evaluated.
  • Using a source to engage its argument. Most will be scholarly sources written by researchers and scholars, or credible sources written by journalists and staff writers of the publication. These are the sources you engage in conversation. 

Analyze an Advertisement

Information Sources (besides OneSearch)

Search Strategies

Find an article that either:

  • Generally theorizes about rhetorical appeals used in the commercial.
  • Makes a claim about the brand/company that created the commercial.

Search Terms:

  • General assignment directions:
    • commercial
    • advertising
    • marketing
    • analysis
  • Specific to commercial:
    • Themes (e.g. masculinity, femininity)
    • Appeals (ethos, pathos, logos)
    • Audience