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English 101: A Few Notes on Searching

Step 1: Choosing Terms

First, you need to choose terms to search. The background information should have given you some ideas.

College football is a really broad topic. By reading background information, I know it can be narrowed to the finances of college football; finances can be narrowed to a number of topics:

  • paying players
  • academic vs. sports spending
  • coaching contracts

You also need to think about other ways your topic could be worded.  Being paid might also be called earning money or revenue.

Step 2: Combining Terms

Now you need to combine the terms using and, or, or not.  Here's how that works:

AND combines:

(For a great example of using "AND," check out the Denzel Washington venn diagram!)

OR broadens:

NOT removes what you don't want:

Step 3: Evaluating What You Find

Use a tool to record your research like Sterne Library's RESEARCH LOGIt will help you remember what terms worked and which ones didn't.

If you got too many results, you may need to narrow your search even more. For the college football example, you could look at a particular school, a certain conference, or a method of payment (cash vs. benefits).

If you didn't get many results, you may need to broaden your search to include more ideas.  Again, in our college football example, you could broaden your search to include all sports.

As always, if you need help you can contact me.

Research Worksheet

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