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WRTG 105 Uncertainty (Phillips): Library Session

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Research Worksheet

WRT 105 Phillips - Library Research - Strategy

Google doc link: 

Helpful links:

Library website:

Guide for class:

Interlibrary loan:

Google Scholar:


1. Write your question here. If you know the theoretical perspectives you’ll consider, write them here.


2. What are the key words (or phrases) in your question? If you’ve done some research already, you might know the terms that experts use. If not, the next step is to find them. In almost every case, you’ll discover terms that are more focused. List the key words or phrases below. Put phrases in quotation marks.


3. What areas do these terms fall in? Philosophy, psychology, social sciences, humanities, anthropology, etc? Do you need evidence from newspapers, or government documents, data about countries, or other primary sources? List the areas that evidence to answer your question might be found. (if you’re not sure, that’s ok, we’ll brainstorm those too) If it’s a government agency or international organization that collects data, be sure to look at #7 below!


4. Brainstorming terms/finding articles.  We’re going to start with the Articles & Books search at the library’s homepage:   Put two or three terms or phrases in the search box, and hit “enter”.  On the first page of results, use the LIMITERS in the left hand column. Now look at the results. Did you find new relevant keywords and phrases? List them here:(Eileen’s example: certainty knowledge politics)


Searching DiscoverUR with three limiters checked: peer-reviewed, year (2010-2024), and subject area (Philosophy)

5. Finding Articles - look at the abstract first (by clicking on the title of the article) and you can see if the article is focused on your topic. You might have to try a few combinations of keywords and phrases to find some that look good. If you like it, download a PDF or use the email function within the database to send it to yourself.


6. Do you have a good article? Let’s use that to help us get more articles like it.  

    Look in the introduction or literature review portion of the paper - does it mention other articles on your topic? The bibliography might help as well.


    Has the good article been cited by any scholars since it was published? To find out, open a new tab and go to , search for your article and see if it’s been cited.



7. Not all research is going to be available through the University of Rochester - you can use Interlibrary Loan to request materials:


You can also look in Google Scholar to find materials not owned by UR - especially when you’ve got your technical terms worked out.  


If you’re looking for data, is it collected by a government agency or an NGO? Their data is often found on the web, so you can Google it.  Just take time to evaluate the source.


Citation Tracking: Finding articles by citation

Once you have one (or more) useful article on a topic, use the references at the end of article to find more sources on your topic using our Citation Search tool.  This helps you see what was written previous to your current article, often called citing backward.


Use Google Scholar to see who has cited your article after it was published.  This helps you see what has been written after your article was published, citing forward.



 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Justina Elmore, University of Rochester