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ENGL 015: Rhetoric and Composition (McCoy)

This guide is for students in Kristy McCoy's ENGL 015 course at Penn State Behrend.

Search Strategies

  1. Use only a few keywords when you search. Do not type a whole sentence or question. Databases will look for each word you type in, and will only show you articles that contain ALL of those words. If you type a whole sentence in a database, you likely will miss many articles that would be useful, because they don't happen to contain the words you searched for.
  2. To find more relevant results quicker, try searching for your keywords in the abstracts or titles of sources. If a keyword is mentioned in the title or the abstract (a summary of the source), chances are, the whole article focuses on that topic, rather than mentioning the term briefly.
  3. Look for one article, book chapter, or report that is very relevant to your research question to start with. Focus your attention on this source to get more ideas for subtopics and subquestions you want to find information about. Also, look at the references for additional sources.


Note: Do not attempt to find one source that makes your exact argument with the same supporting reasons and evidence. Your goal is to say something new, even if what you are suggesting is a small difference.

Databases (PSU)