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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 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...

1. Using the Articles & Research Databases

You can use the Library's Articles & Research Databases area to find peer reviewed journal articles related to your major at MSU. .

2. 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:


3. 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.

4. 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: