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Foundations of College Writing

Beginning your position paper

Have you ever had instruction before on using library resources?
Yes: 10 votes (71.43%)
No: 3 votes (21.43%)
Not sure: 1 votes (7.14%)
Total Votes: 14

Video on developing your topic into a research question


The Internet can always be used to research topics, but you should use additional strategies. Following are several useful strategies, each with their own advantages/disadvantages. For additional strategies or if questions, Ask a Librarian.

Searching specific databases for your topic

You can also search individual databases, selected for their relevance to your topic or for their special features. For example, the Library subscribes to the following databases, which have their own scope:

  • Points of View Reference Center - Search for current and controversial topics. Useful for developing arguments, writing position papers, and development of critical thinking skills.
  • Academic Search Complete - Our largest interdisciplinary database, indexes over 9,990 magazines and journals, more than 5,990 of which are full-text. 1887 - present.
  • ProQuest - Searches all the ProQuest databases: Searches all ProQuest databases: ABI/INFORM Global, BioOne, ebrary, ProQuest Newspapers Premier, Historical Newspapers, and Research Library.
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic - Business, legal, news information sources. Includes newspapers and new magazines from the U.S. and around the world; TV and radio broadcast transcripts; wire services; business news and analysis publications, and so on.

Searching multiple library databases

To search all of the library’s databases (for articles) and the library catalog (for books), use the Search Everything @ BU box on the Library’s home page:

Enter your terms, using mostly concrete nouns (things you can see, feel, touch) as your terms. Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase. Search Everything automatically searches for ALL the terms you type in. On the results page, use limiters on the left to pick the most relevant sources for your topic.

Recommended filters:

  • Limit to full-text
  • Date
  • Source types: Magazines or Academic Journals or Books
  • Subject > Show more: select multiple subject headings, which will focus the results

Using Google effectively

When searching Google, try limiting your search to a specific domain to get more relevant results. For example, limit your search to gov or org or edu domains, as shown here:

TIP: To get an exact phrase, use "quotation marks" around words.

EXTRA TIP: To get current results, filter by date, using Search Tools > Custom Range (last 5 years).


Using additional databases

For additional databases, view the Databases by Subject lists on the Library’s website, for resources specific to disciplines like Criminal Justice or Political Science.

Additional search strategies

A few additional strategies (to name a few):

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