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Tutt Library Research Guides


PS470 Tutorial in American Politics: Searching

To highlight resource of historical and current development of American Politics.

Create A Keyword List

The right keywords help to effectively search catalogs, databases, and the Internet.

- Compile a list of keywords that represent each concept of your topic.

  • Try the Search Generator (Northwest Missouri State University) to help you create a keyword search.

    -Use more specific terms when searching databases versus catalogs.

    - Look for additional terms in your search results.

    •  Add these to your list.

    - Search Google Books for keywords in the title, table of contents, subject headings, and text of books.

    - Use the Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies thesaurus

    •  to find variations of keywords and subject headings.

      You may need to do multiple searches (RE -search) in various databases.
      With patient and persistence, you will find relevant material.

      Scholarly v. Popular

      Video produced by Wayne State University Libraries.


      The Vodka Ad Test

      Or a Quick Guide to Evaluating Periodical Articles

      Flip your magazine or journal over. What kind of ad is on the back cover? If there is a vodka ad, car ad, or cigarette ad, this may not be considered a scholarly source. But let’s go on to more definitive measures…

      Scholarly Articles have:

      • Bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes. This provides evidence of the research that was conducted to produce the article.
      • Written by expert(s) in the field. Usually there is information that describes the author’s credentials and current position.
      • Published by Associations, Research Institutes, University Presses.
      • “Peer reviewed.” Refers to the policy of experts in the field examining journal articles before acceptance for publication.
      • Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students.)
      • Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs

      Popular Magazines on the other hand:

      • No footnotes or references.
      • Written by journalists who are usually not experts in the field.
      • Easy to read. Intended for lay audience. Informative and entertaining.
      • Short articles.
      • Many advertisements throughout the magazine.
      • Glossy, slick. Illustrated with graphics and photos.
      • Unsigned articles.

      These criteria apply to all periodicals (online or print).

      Search features

      Like critreia for evaluating periodicals, what are important in searching online pages and databases?

      Leverage Footnotes and Bibliographies

      Footnotes and bibliographies are a quick way to find related materials and track the names of popular authors.


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