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RHET:1030/1040/1060: Rhetoric (Writing & Reading, Speaking & Reading)

Research Mindset Tip

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Have you found articles that sound like they address your research question, but you are having a difficult time understanding the article itself? That happens to everyone! Take a few minutes to learn some tactics for reading academic resources, and then be persistent and tackle some of that challenging reading. That's how you learn and grow from the experience.

Featured Resource

Daily Iowan cover

The Daily Iowan Archive

Would you like to know more about what has happened right here at the University of Iowa through the years? Dating back to 1868 the Daily Iowan Newspaper Collection provides access to digitized versions of The Daily Iowan and its predecessors: the University Reporter (1868-81), the Vidette (1879-81), the Vidette-Reporter (1881-1901) and the University Mirror (1881).  The newspaper editions are full text searchable.

This resource is one of many available through the Iowa Digital Library

Resources - A Selection of Databases available from The University of Iowa Libraries

A selection of just some of the many databases available for finding articles is listed below. Other indexes and databases can be found through the Find Resources section of the Library's website. 

These databases help you locate relevant articles in scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers. In many cases, the full text of the article is available right in the database. When that is not the case, always click on the gold UILink UILink button  to see if we subscribe to the periodical in print or online. Chances are good that we do.


Search Tips

Here are some basic searching tips to use when searching a library database. Ask a librarian for more help if you are not finding the type of information you need about your topic. 

1. Keywords, Broader terms, Narrower terms

Use a variety of keywords to describe your topic. If you begin your research by using reference materials such as encyclopedias, you will often run across vocabulary to describe your topic that you may not have thought of on your own. Use this worksheet to help you brainstorm:  

  • global warming OR climate change
  • alternative fuel OR ethanol OR hydrogen OR carbon dioxide OR emissions
You should remove all "stop words" from your search. Stop words include articles, prepositions, or essentially any word that is not a crucial, meaningful word. Examples: a, an, the, in, on, of, are, be, into, which, about, that, etc.
2. Use quotation marks for phrase searching
  • "war on drugs"
  • "interpersonal relationship*"
  • "climate change"
3. Use truncation to get the database to search for a root word plus any possible endings
  • flood*  flood, floods, flooded, flooding
  • econom* → economy, economic, economical
  • psycholog* psychology, psychological, psychologist
4. Use AND, OR, and NOT to combine your search terms
  • (television OR TV) AND (women OR female)
  • "war on drugs" AND Mexic* AND (United States OR America*)
  • dolphins NOT football

Visualizing a Library Database

Library databases are some of the most powerful tools you have available for finding information. We have hundreds of databases to choose from, but maybe we should start by trying to visualize what a library database is.

For best viewing, click 'Start Prezi' and then expand the presentation by clicking the diagonal arrows icon in the lower-right corner. Click escape when you are ready to leave full-screen mode.

Lesson - From Idea to Library

As a student at the University of Iowa, you have access to an incredible wealth of information resources available to you through your library. We subscribe to databases that will help you find the magazine, journal, and newspaper articles you need for your academic research. To get started, watch this short tutorial about how information goes from an idea to having a home in a library.

From Idea to Library from NCSU Libraries

Lesson - Scholarly vs. Popular Resources

What is Peer 3 minutes

Here are the basic things to look for when trying to determine if you're looking at a scholarly or a popular publication: 

Scholarly Journals

  • Written by and for experts; authoritative
  • Evaluated by experts; peer-reviewed or refereed
  • Include bibliographies and/or footnotes
  • Lengthy articles that contain specialized language
  • Example: Journal of Social Psychology

Popular publications

  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Written by journalists; reviewed by editors
  • Written for a broad audience
  • Brief articles that use non-technical language
  • Contain advertisements, photos, flashy covers
  • Examples: Time or Newsweek or The New York Times

If, after examining a publication for these features, you still can't tell if it's scholarly/peer-reviewed, search UlrichsWeb for the publication title.

Lesson - One Perfect Source

One Perfect Source by North Carolina State University Libraries

Remember to contact a librarian if you need help getting started with your research.