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CCM 398 Argumentation and Advocacy (Johnson): Home

In-Class Activity

Instructions for today's activity:

You'll be put into groups of 3. Pick a topic that you are interested in. It can be something in your major, something you're interested outside of your coursework, something silly...it doesn't matter! This is practice.

Look through the questions on page 2 of the worksheet and talk through them, out loud, with the other members of your group. Yes, out loud! "Thinking out loud" is a great way to improve your metacognition skills.

After you've talked through the first 3 questions, think of 2 or 3 keywords or phrases related to your topic, then do some quick searches in some of the databases we looked at. What did you learn that you didn't already know? Talk about it with your group.

When we're done, I'll ask one person from each group to share one thing they learned from this exercise.

AND/OR/NOT

Two is better than one

Think about it: search engines crawl thousands, maybe even millions and billions, of pages or records trying to match your search term with results. You're going to be absolutely overwhelmed with results if you only enter a single search term. You're also going to find a lot of completely irrelevant stuff.

So how can you improve your chances?  

Come up with multiple search terms and combine them using the options described here.

Venn diagram highlighting the area of overlap between the two circles.

Combining search terms with AND will:

  • Reduce the number of results
  • Make the search focus more specifically on your topic

Search for "college student"  = 1.2 billion results 

Search for politics = 296 million resultsAdvanced search examples show how to select AND to connect multiple search terms

Search for "college student" AND politics = 43 million results more focused on your topic

Search for "college student" AND politics AND "2008 election" = 543,000 more relevant results

Combining search terms with OR will:

  • Expand your search and increase number of results
  • Give your search flexibility to find alternate terms

Search for film  = 601,786 resultsEBSCO search for movie or film

Search for movie = 199,781 results 

Search for film OR movie  = 642,906 results that mention either film or movie, or both


Search for "middle school" = 21,401 results that mention "middle school"EBSCO search for "middle school" or "junior high"

Search for "junior high" = 7,261 results

Search for "middle school" OR "junior high" = 28,177 results that mention either "middle school" or "junior high", or both

Combining search terms with NOT will:

  • Decrease your search results
  • Increase the relevancy of your results by telling the search to exclude certain terms

Search for "Hunger Games"  = 745 results Demonstrates the advanced search "Not" feature of EBSCO

Search for "Hunger Games" NOT movie = 487 results 

 


Search for cloning = 42,736 resultsBasic EBSCO search bar: cloning NOT human

Search for cloning NOT human = 30,325 results

Search engines attempt to match your terms to the items it searches (titles, authors, abstracts, description fields, full text, etc).

However, search engines do NOT understand phrases, sentences, or questions. So when it does this matching, it searches for each term indivdiually. Some searches attempt to find terms in proximity to each other, but this varies depending on where you search.

Quotation marks to the rescue

If your search terms are more than single worlds, employ quotation marks to show the search engine that you want the terms to be found together. The search will look for exactly what you place in the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.


Search for Adam Smith = 38,700,000 results

Search for "Adam Smith" = 2,730,000 results


Search for theory of relativity = 3,430,000 results

Search for "theory of relativity" = 856,000 results

Resources to Use

Broad/General Academic Searches

Find books, articles, media, and more at Butler and beyond

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Do you know what sort of subject area that your research falls under? Try finding a database through the Databases Grouped by Subject page. Pick a subject and you'll be taken to a page where the liaision librarian for that subject has compiled a list of appropriate databases for you to use. 

Information Commons Librarian

Joel Atkinson's picture
Joel Atkinson
Subjects:Communication

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