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Reacting to the Past - Suffrage & Labor

Basic Search Tips

Library catalogs and databases can't understand an entire sentence. So you'll need to break your topic down into the most important ideas - the KEYWORDS.

Example Topic: How do stereotypes affect female politicians during elections?

Keywords: stereotypes, female politicians, elections

Most words have synonyms that mean the same, or very similar, things. For each keyword in your topic, try to come up with at least one synonym. Not all keywords will have synonyms, but many do!


Keyword: politician     Synonym: candidate

Keep an Eye Out

Sometimes scholars use terms that you might not be familiar with, or which might mean something very specific within the discipline. While searching, look for unfamiliar terms or words that show up a lot. Try searching for those and see if you find more relevant sources.

Most library databases have search tools built in. Try some of these:

  • Date Range: Limit your search to sources published between specific years.
  • Peer Reviewed: Limit your search to scholarly journal articles.
  • Full Text: Make sure all of the results are available to read in full.

Or look for an "advanced search" page to find these tools - and more!


You can evaluate any source using the ESCAPE plan.

Find out more about ESCAPE in our Evaluating Information Tutorial.




Advanced Search Tips

Use the operator AND to find only sources that mention both keywords.

stereotypes AND female politicians


This search will bring back fewer results than searching either keyword on its own.

Use the OR operator to expand your search with additional keywords.

female politicians OR stereotypes


This will find sources that include either word, so you'll see more results than by searching for just one keyword.


Use the “QUOTES” strategy to search for several words in a phrase.

"female politicians"

This will bring back results that only use that exact phrase.

When to Use What Resources

Books are discoverable in the library catalog and located in the library or online.

Books are the best source to find information that is:

  • Historical overview of a subject or topic
  • Explanation of theory
  • Background information on a subject
  • A broad analysis of a topic

Articles are discoverable in the library catalog and located in the library or online

Articles are the best source to find information that is:

  • Current research (even though it may be incomplete)
  • Narrow analysis of a singular topic
  • Original research

Smart Googling 

The internet is best used to locate the following types of information:

  • Current news and events
  • Statistics
  • Current and ongoing educational studies

Research Logs

Research Logs: What are they?

  • A list of your research findings on a given topic
  • A tool to help you organize your research findings 

Research Logs: Why are they?

  • Research logs save you time when you split your research up over days or weeks, they keep you from having to research the some topics over and over again.