Skip to Main Content

English 205 (Carmichael): Finding Sources

Information Literacy Frame represented on this page

Developing your Search Strategy, (keywords, etc.)

Also refer back to the videos on how to choose and search with keywords, under the "Getting Started" tab.

Let's try an example.  Your topic is related to young adults and social media (a very broad topic that you would eventually narrow down).

Keyword search strategies:

"young adults" AND "social media" --> finds sources with both these terms included. 

"young adults" AND twitter --> a more specific topic, finds sources with both terms.

twitter OR instagram--> finds sources with either term included, or both terms.  

"young adults" AND (twitter OR instagram)--> finds young adults and twitter, young adults and instagram, or young adults and both twitter and instagram.  

" "  --> finds the exact phrase

A little more about searching with keywords...

Locating Sources

Northwestern has access to millions of articles not available through Google!

From the library website, enter your keywords into the NUSearch search box. All results with those keywords in the title or description will appear in the search results. Limit your results to "Peer-reviewed Journals" for scholarly articles.

For a more specific search,  go to one of the Libraries' many scholarly databases. If you know the name of your database, find it with Databases A-Z. Find subject-specific lists of databases in our Research Guides.

Searching a scholarly database is different from using a Google search. When searching: 

  • Use an advanced search, which allows you to search for multiple keywords. "AND" allows you to enter more than one term in multiple search boxes to focus your search (e.g. apples AND oranges) for articles about both. "OR" broadens your results (e.g. apples OR oranges) for articles about either. 
  • The results may link to a full-text version of the article, but if one is not available, the library can likely get it for you! Clicking the "Find it @ NU" button on the database's left-hand navigation will display other Northwestern databases that may have access to it. If we don't have access to the article, request it through Interlibrary Loan. 

Locating Books

To locate a book, use the NUsearch. The catalog will tell you the location and call number for retrieval. You can also request for books to be pulled and picked up at the Circulation desk of your choosing.

Borrowing Materials from other Institutions

Need to borrow a book Northwestern does not own or have an article PDF scanned and sent to you? Log into (or create) your interlibrary loan account.  You may also check the status of your interlibrary loan requests here. Contact the Interlibrary Loan Department for more assistance.

Search for literature review articles in subject databases:

  1. Type the phrase "Literature Review" (with quotation marks) as a search term
  2. Look to see if there is an option to limit your search results by Document Type (this may appear underneath the search box or among the filters on the left side of the search results display).

Be careful
The document type "Review" is often used and may identify articles that are book reviews, software reviews or reviews of films, performances, art exhibits, etc.