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Assignment | Texas Policy Project (Henry): Find Your Sources

GOVT 2306 Texas Government | Henry | Summer 2020

Be Wary: Evaluate Your Sources Closely

CRAAP test factors: Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, Purpose

Is your source
Recent? Reliable? Relevant?

Is this source up-to-date? Is it about my topic, and does it go into enough depth? Does it come from an authoritative source? Is the information accurate (and are there citations given to back it up)? And why was this information written in the first place (to inform? persuade? entertain? upset?)?

 

Academic Sources from Databases

illustration of a question mark on fire (burning question)In its most basic sense, a database Access only available off-campus with a 14-digit library barcode from LSCS is just a selection of information designed for you to search and retrieve stuff from it. Amazon is a database you're probably familiar with: it's limited (only contains things you can buy through them) and retrievable (you can search and filter your results to find what you're looking for).

The library databases contain reputable, reliable sources of information to support researchers like you! This means everything from digital encyclopedias (like Credo), ebooks, scholarly journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles, streaming videos, statistics, and more.

Even More Databases:

DatabasesConsider which disciplines apply to your specific topic when choosing your databases.

Research Databases (Main Page)

Databases (Searchable List)


Governmental Sources from Agency Websites

You can streamline your search for government resources with a little Google trickery to limit your results to a specific domain. Try out the searches below to see what happens when you limit to .gov or to texas.gov.

Google Web Search
Google Web Search

Policy Reports by Think Tanks/Interest Groups

Hardly an exhaustive list: these are examples of the kinds of groups meant by this option.


Mainstream Media Sources

Accessing the Databases

Access 100+ databases organized by subject area from the Research Databases page. Also try our dynamic, sortable database list!

Student ID BadgeTo access the databases locked icon (same icon that displays by the LSC-limited access resources) from off-campus, you must provide the 14-digit library barcode.

Don't have one yet? Request a barcode number online.

Making the Most of Advanced Search

These databases will generally start you out with a basic one-field search not unlike what you see when you go to Google. Don't fall for it. There are 2 big benefits to database searching: you don't have to scrutinize your results for reliability, and you have the power of the Advanced Search to weed out the irrelevant.

Screenshot of a JSTOR basic search for "Civil War" which would bring back 793K results

When you're constructing your search, think about how to break your topic down into little bite-sized chunks. You can't just write "Civil War Sherman burns Atlanta" -- well, you could... but it's more effective to break it down, as shown below:

Screenshot of advanced search using multiple fields: Civil War AND United States AND Sherman AND Atlanta

As you add on additional fields for search terms, they'll be joined together by AND by default. This "AND" is the most powerful limiter: the articles you get back have to have term 1 AND term 2 AND term 3 to end up in your results.

If you notice you're getting a lot of articles about Gettysburg instead of Atlanta, you can add another field and switch the AND to a NOT (NOT Gettysburg) to help get rid of those results.

 

This is where your background research really pays off!

All those terms and phrases and ideas you developed before? They all can feed the Advanced Search machine. Be sure to consider synonyms for your different search terms so you can swap them out to play with your search. (E.g. "college" but also "university" or "higher education")

Plus, because you did that background research, you're starting off with a clearer idea of what information you need to find. This means you'll know what you need to put in those search fields to narrow it down from the massive and generic "Civil War" to "Civil War AND United States AND Sherman AND Atlanta."