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WR 4111: Research Methods in Writing

Find Background Information

When you're beginning a research paper, it can be very helpful to look in encyclopedias for background information. Reading background information about your research topic can help you narrow down your topic. It can also help you learn the vocabulary used to describe your topic. This new vocabulary will help you with your keyword searches. 

Helpful sources for background information include: 

Library Databases for News Articles

Find Useful Websites

Google Search Tips

Limit your search by domain type (e.g. .edu, .gov, .org).

  • Example:
    • To find government websites about standardized tests, search for:
      • standardized tests 

Look for associations and NGOs by adding the word “Association” to your searches

Exclude words from your search

  • Put - [minus sign/dash] in front of a word you want to leave out. For example, jaguar speed -car

Search for an exact match

  • Put a word or phrase inside quotes. For example, "tallest building".

Search for wildcards or unknown words

  • Put a * in your word or phrase where you want to leave a placeholder. For example, "largest * in the world".

Combine searches

  • Put "OR" between each search query. For example,  marathon OR race.
Go to the second page of results – most people don’t!
Google Search Tools: