Skip to main content
Montana State University - Home Montana State University Library - Home Ask the Library

WRIT 101 - Jean Arthur: Home

Resources for Jean Arthur's WRIT 101 course.

Exploring Your Research Question

Start your research by brainstorming terms to describe what you're looking for. Try to come up with an assortment of words or phrases that you can combine to get the best results. For instance, if you're looking for articles or editorials about censorship of the media when dealing with sensitive issues such as religion, sex, politics, etc in a specific country or by a group, what words might work for each of the major concepts in your research question?

Keep draft notes of the terms you come up with so you can try them out in different combinations in several library newspaper or journal databases.

 Main Research Concepts      Additional Associated or Alternative Terms
 censorship  freedom of speech, freedom of expression, suppression, self-censorship, control...
 media  newspapers, journalism, internet, radio, television, music, books, art...
 issues  religion, beliefs, religious beliefs, blasphemy, impiety, heresy, sacrilege, taboo...
 place of interest and/or group  country or location name, and/or religion or group...

Using LexisNexis Academic

You can use LexisNexis Academic to find international newspaper editorials on your topic.

Look at your brainstormed terms and decide how you want to begin your search.

1. Choose Search by Subject or Topic: All News

2. Choose Advanced Options: Article Type = Editorials and Opinions and Geographic Location = World Region and By Location = Europe and Date = 2014-2015

3. Click APPLY

4. Start simply! Try using one term, like censorship, in the Search box and click Search. If you get too many results, you can add more terms to narrow your search.

If you have trouble with this you can watch a short video "Finding Editorials or Opinion Articles" on LexisNexis at

Using Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete is a database of magazine and journal articles. You can limit your search to pull up only scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles right from the start or search broadly.

Putting one term in each search box works best:

I can explore my results list, looking for articles that are on-topic and available, and add more terms to narrow my search.

I can use the Citation Tool within a record to generate an MLA (or other style) formatted citation:


Using the "Journals by Title" list

You can also use the Library's journal list -- the list of all the magazines, journals, and newspapers that we subscribe to -- to find articles on a subject as well.

First go to the FIND catetory on the Library's home page.  Then choose the "Journals by Title" category (formerly the JournaList)



If I'm looking for an academic journal article in a certain subject area, I can browse the titles in that subject category.

Using the Theses & Dissertations List

You can find scholarly dissertations and theses in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database.  It's easy to search and gives you the full text of many recent works written by PhD and Masters students.  These are great sources of current and comprehensive information.



Jan Zauha
117C Renne Library

Voice: 406-994-6554

Fax: 406-994-2851

Library Services

Research Tips

  • You never know what you'll find, so be open to the possibilities.
  • Research is like cooking - you often have a make a huge mess to get something good at the end.
  • Don't be afraid to find all the "wrong" ways first.
  • Databases are like cars: if you can drive one car, you can pretty much drive any car. Most all databases share the same basic functions.
  • Think about other words to describe what you're looking for - if something is "red," try "magenta" or "brick."
  • You're trying to find a way in to the conversation, so if you can find one place to start from, you can go from there.
  • Keep a research log so you don't redo things you've already tried.

Get Help at the Writing Center!

The MSU Writing Center has a satellite office in the Library.  Call (406) 994-5315 to make an appointment. For more information, see their Web site linked here: