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American Multicultural Studies

Scholarly Articles

Once you have a better idea of what your research question is, you will want to do some more targeted searching. But keep in mind that when you're looking for sources, you're not trying to find an article that answers your research question. 

The kinds of sources that you want to use for your paper are those that will give your reader context for your own research. You want sources that will help your reader to understand the key ideas and major arguments related to your topic. This is the kind of information that will help YOU understand the key ideas and major arguments in your research area. 


When searching for articles, you want your search to be narrow enough to pull back only things that are relevant, but broad enough that you will have a reasonable chance of finding things. Think about the main ideas in your research question. What are the two or three central concepts that are part of your question? 

For example, if my research question is "How is race represented in horror films from the 1970s?" my key concepts would be race and horror films. I will probably be analyzing some specific horror films from the 1970s in order to answer the question, but I want to know what other people have written about race in horror movies, in order to see whether their theories and ideas align with what I see in my own analysis of films, and to inform my own arguments. 

Try to identify the key concepts from your question. You may also need to think of some synonyms, and some terms like that are broader or narrower, to try to cast as wide a net as possible. 

Using the above example, I could also search for Black people and horror films, African Americans and horror films, ethnicity and horror films, racism and horror films. I could also try terms like horror movies or horror cinema or even just horror. Trying a bunch of different, related terms can help you find more research. 

Boolean Searching

Another advanced searching technique is Boolean searching. This refers to using the words AND, OR, and NOT to refine your search. This video helps explain how Boolean searching works. 


OneSearch is great for finding all kinds of materials, but sometimes you might want to look at a more subject-specific source for research articles. Article databases can help you narrow your search to things that are in your discipline. Many databases contain full-text, but some only contain citations. If you don't see full-text available in the database, look for the Find It button, which will link out to the library's search to see if we have the article somewhere else, or show you how to get it from another library. 

Here are a few databases that are often useful for AMCS research topics.