Marymount California University Library

Eng 114: Analytical Writing

News and Journal Articles Databases

Getting Started - Research and Search

Reseach and Search - 3 Steps

The basics, followed by more details in the example below:

1 - Start by surveying the landscape of a topic - find background information on it and get a general understanding of some of the issues and questions surrounding it. What are people saying about it?

2 - Discover what interests you about the topic. Brainstorm your topic and broaden or narrow it by asking: Who? What? Where? When? Using these questions as an aid, develop a research question related to your topic.

3 - Select the key words in your research question and combine the words. You'll use these key words for searching news and journal articles, web sites/blogs and other sources that will provide evidence in your paper.

Example

Topic: minimum wage

Following Step 1 above, find general information and facts about the topic in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and books; you can also identify ideas authors are talking about on the topic by surveying article abstracts or descriptions.

Step 2 - Create a research question. Drawing on background information gathered on the topic of minimum wage, here's one conversation (among many) going on about  minimum wage that was turned into a research question (by asking Who? What? Where? When?):

          Can workers earning minimum wage in the U.S. today support a family?

Once you have created a research question, the paper is built around answering the question. Esentially, the research question is the paper's thesis. The paper is built by providing points of evidence/examples that support and defend the writer's thoughts and ideas on the question. Where do you find evidence?

Step 3. Evidence that affirms and/or opposes your thoughts and ideas on the research question is found in commentary, interpretation, and analysis located in articles, blogs, news, and books. Search the latter using key search words relating to your research question.

Here's how. In the example research question above, the key search words are:

           workers ... "minimum wage" ... family ... U.S.

Combine the key words:

  • Link your key search words with AND. For example, a good way to find articles on this research question would be to search:

               workers  AND "minimum wage"  AND  family AND U.S.

  • Use Quotes. To search for phrases of two or more words, place quotes around the phrase, for example:  "minimum wage"
  • If there are different ways to say the same thing, consider using the linking word OR and enclose the words in parentheses. For example, (teenagers OR  adolescents);  (poverty OR welfare assistance).

Finally, using the key words relating to your research question, search the journal and news article resources on the right. Reminder: research and searching is a process. Don't expect to find what you're looking for right away and make sure you search a number of resources.  Good luck!

Have questions? Ask a librarian!

Don't have a topic yet? Try browsing Opposing Viewpoints for major topics in the news.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License