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WRIT 244: American Ideas: Cultural Contexts for Academic Writing (BMC)

Spring 2020; Prof. Litsinger

Searching Tips

Library Instruction Session

Searching in Library Databases

How can I do a better search for my topic?


1. Think of two or three keywords to describe your topic.

               TOPIC: Discuss the history of tattooing in the United States

               KEYWORDS: history tattoo united states


Other possible KEYWORDS to search:   

Body Modification

Body Marking

Body Art



Body piercing

Plastic Surgery



2. Type quotation marks around a phrase or an exact title.

               Example: "body modification" will give more precise results than body modification


3. Combining Terms, Words or Phrases

               Type AND and then type the word or phrase to include both.

                              Example: history AND tattoo  AND "united states"

               Type OR and then type the word or phrase to search for either one, the other, or both.

                              Example: tattoo OR "body art" OR "skin art"


4. Use synonyms and related terms to find different results. Example:

    "body image" in place of "self-image"

    "opinions" in place of "attitudes"


5. Wildcard Searching

               To search for multiple variations of a word, substitute a "wildcard" for one or more letters.

                              Use * to represent multiple characters.

                              Use ? to represent a single character.

               Example: tattoo* will find tattoo, tattooing, tattooed , etc.

                  Example: wom?n will find woman, women, etc.


6. Advanced Search

              "Advanced Search" lets you easily search multiple fields at the same time and combine terms in complex ways.


Searching Tripod

Tripod: The library's catalog

This semester, limit Tripod searches to "online" to see ebooks.

Searching for ebooks demo

Searching Journal Databases

Start at the Research Guides page, and select a subject to see recommended journal databases

Finding Journal Articles in History, Economics, Psychology, Sociology

How do I find the full text of the article?

Look for the findit button in each database!


findit will help you

  • locate the article online.
  • locate a print copy of the journal in the TriCollege libraries,
  • or give you the option to request the article from another library through our Article Delivery service.

Scholarly and Popular Articles

Scholarly Journals and Popular Magazines: What's the difference?

Scholarly journals  are written by and for experts in a field. The articles tend to be long and contain many citations and footnotes.

Popular magazines are written for a more general audience, and authors tend to be journalists or staff writers. The articles usually don't provide footnotes or detailed citations. 


For a more detailed analysis of the differences between these types of publications, see these sites: 

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals video (Vanderbilt University)
This short video introduces the main differences between these two types of publications.

Scholarly  vs. Popular Materials (NCSU Libraries) 
This page compares popular, scholarly and  trade journals.

U.S. & International News


Citation Styles

The most commonly used publication styles are created by the Modern Languages Association, the American Psychological Association, and the University of Chicago.  See the invidival tabs for Chicago, APA, and MLA for citation examples and further information.

(No matter what style your professor requests, a citation manager can help you organize and cite your sources, and so can a librarian.) 


Zotero: The Tri-College Libraries recommend Zotero, a free online app that can format your bibliography, keep your citations organized, and even save your articles in the cloud so you can access them later from the library, home, or a cafe.

Any librarian will be happy to give your a tour or a few pointers of the software.

Ask for Help!

Need Help?

If you need help ask a Librarian!  We will help you with your research.  


Schedule an online appointment for a personal research session. 


Get Help! Subject Specialists

The librarians are here to help you! Email with your questions, contact any of us directly by email, or make an online appointment.


Joyce Angelucci

Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Math, Physics

Kate Blinn

Anthropology, Economics, Environmental Studies, Political Science, Sociology 

Camilla MacKay

Archaeology, Classical Languages & Studies/Greek and Latin, History of Art

Alex Pfundt

Education, Health Studies, Psychology, Social Work

Eric Pumroy

History, Philosophy

Laura Surtees

Archaeology,  Cities, Classical Languages & Studies, History of Art

Arleen Zimmerle

Africana Studies, Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, English, Creative Writing, Dance, Film Studies, Languages, Theater, Writing