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 connections between religion and racism, what words might work to get at 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 or journal databases.
|Main Research Concepts||Additional Associated or Alternative Terms|
|racism||racial tension, discrimination, Jim Crow, segregation, prejudice...|
|religion||church, Christianity (specific sects?), Islam, beliefs...|
|people||blacks, African Americans, Negroes, whites, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American...|
|place of interest||country, city, or other location name...|
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:
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.
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.
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: