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College Writing   Tags: college_writing, course, english_112  

Find sources for your Unit 3, "Adding to the Conversation" project.
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Welcome instructors and students, to your guide to library research supporting College Writing. This guide will provide you with information on not only the utilization of the libraries' resources, but topics that will help you be a better researcher throughout your college career. 


Finding Course Materials on Reserve

Reserves materials for this course can be found by going to the Physical Reserves page, selecting COURSE NAME in the Search For menu, and typing College Writing into the Search box.


Selecting a Research Topic

The most challenging part of starting a research paper can be finding a research topic.  Below are resources to help you begin the process.


Concept Mapping is a way of visually brainstorming research topics and ideas for your paper.  This video outlines the method of concept mapping and how it can be used to pinpoint a research topic of interest.

The Choosing a Topic guide provided by Purdue's Online Writing Lab provides detailed information on how to initally select a topic of focus for a research paper.  This information may also be downloaded and distributed as a handout.

Google Like a Pro

Google is a great way to find resources for your paper, when you use it in the right way! Googling something in your browser's search bar or on the main google page works great for simple and casual searches, but you'll need more precision when you're doing research for a college assignment. For research papers and course projects, you should go to Google's advanced search tools. Find links to these tools, and tips for using them effectively, below:

  • Advanced Book Search
    The advanced book search lets you use multiple keywords, date limits, and more to find exactly the books you want. It also lets you limit your search to just books with previews or full-text available. Be careful using the latter limiters though, because full text is usually only available for books out of copyright (written before 1923), and limiting your search to previews only shows you a fraction of the books that may be available on you topic. And even when a book isn't available via Google, there's a good chance you can still get it through the UMass Libraries.
  • Google Scholar
    To get Google Scholar to work for you, you need to go the Settings, click on "Library Links" in the right margin and make sure that UMass Amherst is enabled as your library. This way, when you search using Google Scholar, you will see links to our library holdings to the left of the results.

    To use to the advanced search box for Google Scholar, you need to click the small arrow in the left side of the main search box. This will open the advanced search box. Much like the advanced book search, this will allow you to limit by date language, etc.
  • Google Advanced Search
    Use this instead of the main Google search. Limiting by site type is particularly useful, when you are looking for something on a specific website, or when you only want to limit to a type of site (such as educational sites or government sites).

Searching WorldCat

To find sources for your annotated bibliography, you can also start your search with UMA WorldCat. This resource gives you the ability to search the Five Colleges Catalog and several databases at the same time for books, articles and more. It is especially helpful for writing research papers because it focuses on scholarly books and journal articles. For help getting started with UMA WorldCat, take a look at the Getting Started With UMA WorldCat Tutorial that we've put together for you.  



Searching Syntax: the Basics

"Boolean Search Operatives" is just a fancy way of saying "AND" "OR" "NOT"

Using the guide to the left, try a few searches in a any of the databases recommended above to see how it will change your results.

© 2016 University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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