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ENG 140: Orphans and Others

Students working on laptops in mezzanine.Forming your Search String

The more complicated your question, the less likely a search engine can understand it. To get the best result, identify keywords and like terms to create a search string.

Example research question: How does child labor in mining affect immigrant communities?

Keywords: child labor, mining, immigrant communities

Like terms can include synonyms and also examples of your keywords. If you don't get results from searching your keywords, it doesn't mean that the research doesn't exist. It could mean that the researcher used different language to describe the same topic

  • Child labor: child trafficking, breaker boy
  • Mining: coal mining, anthracite mining
  • Immigrant communities: immigrants, first generation, Polish, Slovak

Search strings connect your keywords and like terms together for the best results.

Too many results? Use AND to narrow results

child labor AND mining AND immigrant

Too few results? Use OR to broaden results

child labor OR breaker boy AND mining OR anthracite OR coal mining AND immigrant OR Polish

students reading in front of periodical display

Also known as peer-reviewed articles, scholarly articles are sources that are:

  • written by experts in the field
  • reviewed by other experts in the field (hence the peer-reviewed)
  • intended for an academic audience

While you can find scholarly articles through general search engines, databases contain a feature where you can narrow your results to only scholarly articles.

Find Author Articles:

Find Articles in Multidisciplinary Databases:

Find History Articles:

Find Modern-Day Social Welfare Articles:

Student thumbing through a book in front of library stacks

Books and eBooks often provide a broader overview and cover more information than a scholarly journal article.

You don't need to read an entire book to use it in your research. Use the index at the back of a book to find the information you need.

To find books and eBooks, you can either:

  • Search the NOBLE catalog
  • Browse the stacks for a book related to your topic


PN             Literature (General)

PR             English literature

PS             American literature


D              History (General)

DA            Great Britain

DB-DR     Europe

DS           Asia

DT           Africa

DU          Oceania, Australia

E             United States

F             US Local history. Canada. Central and South America

Social Welfare

 HN         Social History, Social Problems, Social Reform

 HQ         Family, Marriage, Women, Sexual Life

 HT          Communities, Classes, Races

 HV1-5840           Social Work, Social & Public Welfare

 HV6001-9950     Criminology, Criminal Justice

Quick Way to Cite

Screenshot of Cite box on EBSCO database showing a formatted MLA citation that you can copy and paste

If you found an article on a database, look for the Cite button to get a formatted citation for your Works Cited, in less time than it takes for EasyBib to load.

If you find an article or book that you can't access, don't pay for it! Instead, submit an inter-library loan (ILL) request, and you'll receive articles within a few days!

Are you looking for a specific article, like an article that you found referenced in a bibliography? Search for the journal in Journal Finder, linked below: