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EN 102 First Year Writing: Primary Source Research

A course guide for students enrolled in EN102

Primary Source Research

Sometimes you need to be able to find information about your subject that isn't necessarily found in a library collection. For example, you are writing a profile about someone and as you learn about them, you find out they volunteer at the local humane society. Or perhaps they participate in Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. Perhaps you want to find more out about where this person grew up?

Information about these kinds of things can usually be found on the internet. Here are some tips for searching for reliable information for a project such as a nonfiction essay or a profile piece about a person or place that you are researching:

  • Find the local visitor's guide website for the location (the home town of the person you are writing about, or the location you are writing about) 
  • Do a specific search for organizations that might be relevant to your subject
  • Limit your search to specific websites or specific domains by using this Google "hack":
    • [limits to only sites that end in the ".org" domain]
    • site: [limits search to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama website]

Digital Archive Search Tips

Acumen defaults to looking for all of the keywords in the search box

To find either keyword, use OR between them

To filter out certain keywords, use NOT before the one you don't want

Acumen defaults to looking for all types of resources

To find a particular type of resource, choose a format from the dropdown menu

Acumen defaults to looking for your keyword(s) in all fields

To find your keyword(s) in a particular field, use the format field:keyword or field:(keyword AND keyword) in the search box