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3.10: Language Toolkit

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    Terms and Vocabulary for Research

    • Search engine: A program that searches the internet, such as Google or Baidu
    • Database: A collection of articles that is owned by a library
    • Key word: Words that describe the main topic you are looking for
    • Subject terms: words or phrases that describe the content of an article in the database. These are assigned by the database, and each database has a specific list of subject terms
    • Narrow a search: make your search more specific so you find fewer, more focused articles
    • Broaden a search: make your search less specific so you find more articles
    • Current: recent or relating to today
    • Credible: something that can be trusted

    Getting help from a librarian (or instructor)

    Research is not something that you need to do alone! Librarians’ jobs are to help you, so please take advantage of working with them. Once you have a relationship with a librarian, you will be able to come back to the same person throughout your college career.

    Table 3.10.2 gives some phrases you can use to ask for help from a librarian or instructor.

    Table 3.10.2: Sentence starters and phrases to use in contacting a librarian or instructor

    Sentence starter

    Gerund + research task

    I need some help with ….

    I would like some advice for….

    I was wondering if you could assist me with…

    I am having trouble with...

    Coming up with a good research topic

    Narrowing down my topic

    Developing a strong research question

    Using the databases

    Using the internet to find strong sources

    Finding key word synonyms

    Narrowing down my search results

    Evaluating my search results

    Finding academic sources

    Citing this information correctly

    It is also helpful to share what you have already done. That way, the librarian will understand where you are in the process and how much you already know.

    Let's look at a sample email:

    Notice this!

    What do you notice in this email that makes it more effective?

    Dear Ms. Yap,

    I am a student in ESOL 52 and I am working on a research paper on how faculty of color are underrepresented in colleges. I have already narrowed down my topic and I found a lot of sources in the library database. However, I am having trouble evaluating which sources are best for my paper. I was wondering if you could assist me with making sure that I have best sources?



    Licenses and Attributions

    CC Licensed Content: Original

    Authored by Elizabeth Wadell, Laney College. License: CC BY NC.


    This page titled 3.10: Language Toolkit is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gabriel Winer & Elizabeth Wadell (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .

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