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Writing Across the Curriculum

MPA WAC Library Fall 2006

Jane Suda, Librarian & Assistant Professor

I. Before You Search
Keywords = the main concepts you want to research.
Boolean Operators = how you tie together keywords when you search = And, Or, Not

  • With the OR operator put your keywords in (parentheses) i.e. (law or legal)

Phrase = when searching a phrase, put "Quotation Marks" around the phrase
Limit = a way to create a more efficient search by reducing the scope of your search

Selected examples of Limits:

  • Date limit (i.e. only the past five years)
  • Type of literature limit (i.e. newspapers, magazines, scholarly articles)
  • Keyword location (authors name includes LOVE; title includes LOVE; subject includes LOVE)

Keyword Example:

Concept #1 = "conflict of interest"
Concept #2 = public*
Concept #3 = (administrat* or manag* or supervis*)
Concept #4 = name of the agency
Concept #5 = (law or policy or legal or illegal or specific law name)
Concept #6 = (prevent* or educat* or treatment)
Concept #7 = (enforce* or punish*)
Concept #8 = (ethic* or moral*)
Concept #9 = name of a professional association

String the keywords together. Add synonyms. Use Boolean Operators, truncation, parenthesis, and quotation marks as needed.

II. Where will you go to to Find Your Information?

  • Online Database? Book? Agency Website? Association Website?

III. How will you cite the sources you choose to use?

  • Ask your Professor about citation style and expectations.

IV. How will you document your research process?

  • Keep a research log, a separate folder, notebook, or email file for your research

V. Expanding your Research

  • Use the Bibliographies of the Books/Articles you find
  • Scan text for significant Authors, Laws, Agencies, Organizations - use them as new keywords
  • Try different databases (i.e. legal database for legal aspects, health database for health aspects)

VI. Stop Researching and WRITE

  • While writing you may identify information gaps

VII. Revisit Your Thesis

  • It should tie together the key concepts you have selected.

VIII. Reminders

  • Get your Library Barcode 
  • Identify Keywords Prior to Searching 
  • Learn the APA citation style
  • Read the Diana Hacker book, A Writer's Reference , section R
  • When you need help, ask a librarian




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