Skip to Main Content

CA 387: Magazine & Feature Writing: Research Basics

Topic Refinement and Keywords


To find books and government documents in USA Libraries' collections, use SOUTHcat: USA Libraries' Catalog.

  • Catalog tips and tricks:
    • Keyword searches – use quotation marks to hold phrases together ("organizational communication")
    • Truncation – use ? after the root of a word to find all its variants (organiz? finds organize, organization, organizational...)
    • Browse the Subject(s) field in records to find the right words for searches. (Example: Try doing a keyword search for "organizational communication," then look at the subject(s) field in several records. You’ll see that the subject term is "Communication in organizations." Click the subject heading to find more records with this subject.)
  • Revise and refine your searches.
  • Watch for repeating call numbers and browse stacks in that area.
  • Pay attention to the Location and Status fields. You will need this information to locate the item in the library.

Suggested Search Terms

Below are some suggested search terms to use when searching the SOUTHcat catalog or library databases. Search techniques may vary with each databases, so look at help screens or ask a librarian for suggestions about using quotation marks and truncation symbols.

Leave out the word "and" when doing a single keyword searches on SOUTHcat, since "and" is automatically added between words if the phrase is not in quotes. Put phrases in quotation marks to search as a phrase. Use ? as a truncation or wildcard symbol in the catalog. SOUTHcat will ignore internal punctuation in a word, for example: non-verbal will find nonverbal.

"social sciences" methodology
qualitative research
"social sciences" research
research method?
psychology methods
"organizational behavior" research
survey? methodology
questionnaire? methodology
interview? research
qualitative method?