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English 1301 - Irvin, Lennie: Finding and Evaluating a Source

How to find and evaluate sources for your research.

Searching as Strategic Exploration


Students will understand how to create a flexible search strategy and select the best tool for an assignment


S.1.  Understand how search tools are organized;

S.2.  Brainstorm keywords and select sources;

S. 3.  Match information needs to a search tool; and

S. 4.  Create and revise a search strategy.


K. 1.  Information sources vary greatly in content and format and have varying relevance and value; 

K. 2.  Recognize the value of browsing and persistence;

K.3.  First attempts don't always produce good results.

Activity:  All groups will begin with the following research topic:

How has immigration policy changed in the U. S.?

  1. Class will be divided into groups.  Groups will be given an index card with a specific discipline from which to search.
  2. Discuss with your group how your specific discipline might approach the topic and brainstorm relevant keywords. Write your keywords and related words or synonyms that you would use to research the topic on your index card. 
  3. Ask for volunteer group to write their keywords on the board. 
  • Discuss keywords and search strings and where to find the A-Z List & Subject List of Search Tools. 
  1. Each group will examine three different database tools and consider the following: 
    • What types of content did you find?  journal articles, news, primary source, video, audio, reference, statistics, reports, etc
    • Were your search results relevant to your research topic?
    • Were the number of search results you found manageable?
    • How could you limit your findings to make them more manageable or relevant?
    • Consider the capabilities within the database that you like? [printing, emailing, citing, upload to Cloud, download, cited references, cited by, share, etc.]  Discuss them with your group.
  2. Discuss each tool and determine, as a group, which tool do you prefer.  Write the name of the database (tool) on the index card along with the things you like best about the tool. 
  3. Volunteer from groups will share their favorite tool with the class. 
  4. WRAP UP - Explain to another student the steps in the process of searching and why each step is important. 

Video courtesy of Yavapai College.

Search Examples from Tools

Tool: Library Discovery

Try an all-in-one search for topics to get articles, books, and more. Use quotation marks "for phrases" and the * to pick up alternate endings in your search string.

Library Discovery - internet addiction - search example

Off-campus access

Library databases require a login from off-campus!

  • ACES username is required for login
  • ACES password is your password for login

What does the login page look like?


San Antonio College Library
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1819 North Main Avenue., San Antonio, TX 78212
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