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Library Basics: Search Strategies

Steps to effective searching

1. Determine Keywords
Make a list of words related to your topic. These could include the important concepts in your research question, synonyms, broader and narrower terms, technical terms used by experts, related issues

2. Choose a place to search
Consider the type of sources you need to find and choose an appropriate search tool. For scholarly articles, always start with a library database.

3. Try a search using one or two keywords

4. Look through the entire first page of results
Exercise click restraint! Don't just click on the first result. Look through your results, reading the titles and snippets of the abstracts, then go back and click on the ones that seem relevant

5. Adjust your search as necessary by trying different keywords, limiting by date, source type, etc.

Parts of a scholarly article - color coded


Making sense of search results


From Topic to Thesis

Developing my research question & thesis. Topic:  Something social science-y about cricket Slightly narrower topic:   Something about politics & cricket Preliminary Question:   What role does cricket play in this region?
What did I find? Cricket cauldron: the turbulent politics of sport in Pakistan This book sees Pakistan – its history, politics and society – through the prism of cricket. Shaharyar Khan describes how cricket defines national identity and boosts morale even while Pakistan struggles to contain internal political conflict and the influence of the Taliban near and within its borders; he shows how the game shapes the political, social and cultural landscape of Pakistan and its fractured relations with India. Summary: Cricket’s importance in Pakistan makes it a platform for international relations with India
What did I find? The magic of Indian cricket: cricket and society. It is a unique account of the Indian cricket phenomenon. Drawing on a combination of extensive research and personal experience, Bose traces the development of the Indian game from its beginnings as a colonial pastime to its coming of age as a national passion and now a global commercial powerhouse. This illuminating study reveals Indian cricket's central place in modern India’s identity, culture and society.  Insightful, honest and challenging, Bose tackles the myths and controversies of Indian cricket. He considers the game in terms of race, caste, politics, national consciousness and ambition, money, celebrity and the media, evoking all the unpredictability, frustration and glory that is the magic of Indian cricket. Summary: India’s pastime began as a colonial power, but now helps define the identity of the country while connecting across castes.
What did I find? Cricket obsession in India: through the lens of identity theory Summary: Because it is a country of lots of religious & ethnic identities, cricket acts as a way to create a national identity in India
What did I find? Feel Good, Goodwill and India's Friendship Tour of Pakistan,  2004: Cricket Politics and Diplomacy in Twenty-First-Century India Summary: Cricket is one arena where India/Pakistan conflict isn’t as evident. It has been used as a diplomatic tool.
Developing my research question & thesis Focused question  What role does cricket play in the larger political and social landscape of India? Answer = my working thesis Despite its colonial roots, cricket has emerged as a nationalist force providing a backbone of Indian identity, a platform for political talks, and a bridge across castes.  Proving my thesis = my paper Now my job is to explain how those things leads to violence with evidence gathered from my sources.


Source Types

Evaluation criteria

Evaluation Criteria things to consider when  evaluating your source quality. Authority: Who wrote it? What is their expertise? Who do they work for? Why are they trustworthy? How do you know that? Currency: When was this written? How long ago was the info they're quoting published? Has information changed since then? Sources/Data: Where did they get their information? Did they collect it themselves? How did they? If not, what info do they use to prove their point? Purpose: What is the goal of this source? Are they trying to convince you of something? Inform you? Sell you something? Educate you? Point of View: What is the author or organization's perspective? How does that affect their argument? Funding/Transparency: Who funded the research? Who funds the organization? Does that impact their findings? Does that provide potential bias? Explore the source to find evidence to answer these questions. Balance: Does the author provide multiple points of view? Do they address the counterarguments from the other side? Does it provide a balanced view? Organization: Who published the source? What is the goal of the organization? Are they open and transparent about that? Remember that this isn't a check list. Instead, you need to consider the relative strength of the criteria and if the overall quality leans most convincingly for or against use. Charles C. Myers Library