WRIT 340: Pre Law: Databases

Search Tips

Once you have identified your research questions generate a list of words that are related to your topic:

Use AND, OR, NOT to connect your phrases/keywords

to locate both morality AND norms

to locate either word discourse OR commentary

NOT will retrieve the first word, debate NOT argument

 Keywords and phrases for violence: violence, bullying, peer pressure

Keywords and phrases for schools: school, high school, middle school, primary education

Keywords and phrases for video games: electronic games, electronic toys, video games, games

Sample keyword searches for a database:

violence and schools and electronic games


 Now check to see if it is too specific, if it is, work toward a general focus. This will help you  generate a list of keywords, or concepts related to your topic.


travel, tourism, e-commerce, "mobile devices", smartphones, United States,vacations, digital travel, etc....

Use AND, OR, NOT to connect your phrases/keywords

to locate both smartphones AND travel

to locate either word U.S. OR United States

to locate (the first word) vacation NOT trip

 * truncation symbol

travel*  travels, travelers, traveling, traveled

Tips for Evaluating Sources

In the research process, evaluating sources is vital.Consider the following questions in order to effectively evaluate and gain a more critical understanding of your sources.

Checking for signs of bias

  • Does the author or publisher endorse political or religious views that could affect objectivity?
  • Is the author or publisher associated with a special-interest group, such as Greenpeace or the National Rifle Association, that might present only one side of an issue?
  • Are alternative views presented and addressed? How fairly does the author treat opposing views?
  • Does the author’s language show signs of bias?

Assessing an argument

  • What is the author’s central claim or thesis?
  • How does the author support this claim—with relevant and sufficient evidence or with just a few anecdotes or emotional examples?
  • Are statistics consistent with those you encounter in other sources? Have they been used fairly? Does the author explain where the statistics come from? (It is possible to “lie” with statistics by using them selectively or by omitting mathematical details.)
  • Are any of the author’s assumptions questionable?
  • Does the author consider opposing arguments and refute them persuasively?
  • Does the author fall prey to any logical fallacies?

Tips for Evaluating Sources

Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, Fifth Edition, by Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister.


Research Databases

Here are a few databases to begin your research:

More Databases

Here are a few databases to begin your research: