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Communication 101 - Toth - Spring 2021

Detailed Research Guide

Before taking a deep dive into OneSearch, we recommend taking a look at the research guide linked below, which provides more in-depth, step-by-step instructions on finding/navigating articles from the LAVC Library website. After making your way through the guide, come back here for more tips on your specific assignment!

Advanced Search

In the video on the previous page of this guide, we saw how a simple, general search like "television and gender stereotypes" could lead you to some very helpful sources. In most cases, however, as you get deeper into searching for sources for your speech, you'll end up performing what's called an advanced search.

Take a look at our Advanced Search page to learn more about this process and how it can be very beneficial in your research. Once you've gone over that page, come back here for some specific search tips for your Comm 101 speech.

If you decide to try out an advanced search for your new information speech, we recommend breaking it up into at least 2-3 parts (and entering each part into its own search box, see example below): 1. pollution; 2. coral reefs; 3. [a keyword of your choosing]

Advanced search box

How do we choose what specific words to search for? More on Keywords below.


Try Alternate Keywords

Keywords -- the words or phrases that you enter into your search -- play a big role in determining the kinds of sources you'll find. You may start with a very specific search in mind, but no matter what your topic is, there are probably dozens of different ways to put it into writing and into a search.

For example, I used the word "pollution" in the advanced search example above because that specific word was in the assignment prompt that Prof. Toth gave your class. Pollution isn't the only word I could use there, though. Can you think of any others?

For this particular assignment, here are some useful alternate keywords...

  • instead of pollution, try out: human impact or bleaching or climate change

  • instead of coral reefs, try out: reef ecosystem or the names of specific reefs, like Great Barrier Reef

  • instead of statistics, try out: lifespan or conservation or recovery -- this 3rd keyword slot is really open to whatever specific direction you want to take your research!

Part of doing a thorough job of research is trying out lots of different combinations of keywords in different searches to see which ones bring you the best results. If your initial searches aren't bringing back great results, try out some of the alternate keywords above, where appropriate. Yes, it can be time consuming, but that's what it takes to research a quality, college-level speech!

Remember: It's OK if you can't think of any alternate keywords at the start of the research process--as you start to read more and more about your topic, you'll start to come across more and more words that you can use in future searches.

Video (2:08): One Perfect Source?

Having trouble finding sources? One common mistake that students make is trying to find the "perfect" all-encompassing book/article that covers every aspect of their topic. In most cases, it simply doesn't exist! As the video below points out, you'll most likely end up using several books/articles -- each one covering a portion of your topic; then, you'll do the work of synthesizing them all into a coherent argument/paper. After watching the video, move on to the next portion of this guide for more help with finding sources.

Source: NCSU Libraries

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