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APEL Synthesis Question

Page history last edited by Katherine Powell 9 years, 2 months ago

Controversial Issues Databases


Login to all of these with the username and password on the back of your ID card.  All should provide MLA citations.


Search Engines

"Google alone is not always sufficient, however. Not everything on the Web is fully searchable in Google. Overlap studies show that more than 80% of the pages in a major search engine's database exist only in that database. For this reason, getting a "second opinion" can be worth your time. For this purpose, we recommend Yahoo! Search or Exalead."  (University of California Berkeley Libraries)


Still having trouble finding what you want?  Try Noodlequest.  Noodletools will help you fit your research needs to the correct search engines. 



Searching Strategies


Basic Searching

The strategies below are from the University of Maryland's Libraries.


ALL or ANY Keywords  

Most search engines look for ALL the words in a search. For instance, in a search for dog canine puppy , only sites that contain ALL WORDS will be retrieved.

To complete a search with ANY keyword returned, include an  OR between words. For example, dog OR canine OR puppy will return sites that contain one, two, or three of the words.
OR means MORE results.



The capitalization of a letter does not matter in most search engines.

Whether you search for Napoleon Bonaparte, napoleon bonaparte, or NaPolEON boNaPArte, your results will be the same.


Common Words

If you enter short, common words, such as a, and, the, who, how, and in, a search engine or directory will eliminate those words from your search.

If you need to include these words, see "search for a phrase" in the table below.

Advanced Search Features

Below are some of the common advanced search features in many search engines.  Check the Advanced Search or Help Section of the search tool you are using to see if these features are available.

Feature Symbol Example Action
Include a keyword +
+intellectual +property +patents

Finds Web sites where the term after the + appears in the results.


Exclude a keyword - +intellectual +property -patents

Finds Web sites with intellectual and property, but not patents.


Search for a phrase " " "four score and seven years ago "

Finds Web sites which contain the exact phrase.


Search within the title of a Web site title: title:mortgage Finds Web sites with mortgage in the title tag.

Search within a site domain site: cherry site:www.pepsi.com

Searches within the site www.pepsi.com for the keyword cherry


Search using truncation * finan* planning

Finds Web sites with finance, finances, financial, etc.


Use Boolean operator AND AND montana AND camping Finds Web sites with both terms.

Use Boolean operator OR OR


montana OR camping Finds Web sites with either term.
Use Boolean operator NOT NOT montana NOT camping Finds Web sites with montana, but not camping.

Search using nesting ( ) (college OR university) "bookstore"

Finds Web sites with college OR university, and bookstore.



Evaluating Sources

From Writing with Style:

"Many sources, particularly on the Internet, aren’t legitimate for research use.  Some are out-of-date; others come from non-expert sources; still others are created for shock value. 

Use the following checklist to evaluate the quality of the sources you’re using:

  • Is the information up to date?
  • Is the information complete?
  • Is the information accurate?
  • Is the source a qualified expert?
  • Is the source objective or biased?"


Evaluating Web Sites -- Criteria and Tools from Cornell, UC Berkeley, John Hopkins and others.



Primary Sources


  • "Firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation" (Yale University Library Primary Sources Research Colloquium).
  • "Work that was written at a time that is contemporary or nearly contemporary to the period or subject being studied" (Cantor and Schneider, How to Study History). For example using Mein Kampf to study Hitler's influence on the German people in the 1930s and 1940s.


Primary Source Formats:

  • Oral transmissions: speeches, music, interview, ballads, legends.
  • Written transmissions: diaries, letters, newspapers, census data, laws, government documents.
  • Visually transmitted sources:  photographs, cartoons, videos, architecture, artifacts, maps.


Most of the subscription databases and the Internet resources listed on this page contain primary sources.


MLA Citations


Citing Images examples from Simon Fraser University Library:

Maps or Charts from Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation

Cite a map or a chart as you would a book or a short work within a longer work. Use the word “Map” or “Chart” following the title. Add the medium and, for an online source, the sponsor or publisher and the date of access.


Joseph, Lori, and Bob Laird. “Driving While Phoning Is Dangerous.” Chart. USA Today 16 Feb. 2001: 1A. Print.
“Serbia.” Map. Syrena Maps. Syrena, 2 Feb. 2001. Web. 17 Mar. 2009.
Cite a Web Site or Article on a Web Site from Writing with Style

Basic Format:

Author(s). "Title of the Page." Title of the  Overall Web Site. Publisher or Sponsor of the Site( if not available, use N.p.),

Date of Publication (day, month, and year, as available; if nothing is available, use n.d.). Web. Date of Access . <URL if requested or necessary to locate website>.


Web Site Example: 

F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary. University of South Carolina, 7 Jan. 2002. Web. 4 Mar. 2010. <http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/>.

Article on Web Site Example:

"Ranch-Raised Fur: Captive Cruelty." PETA Factsheets. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), n.d. Web. 13 May 2002. <http://www.peta-online.org/ mc/facts/fswild3.html>.


Internet Resources

Primary Sources


Controversial Issues


Polling Resources

  • Gallup -- Statistics and articles based on this polling company's research.
  • Polling Report -- Search Engine for Polls
  • Roper Public Opinion Research -- Topics at a Glance
  • Pew Research Center -- Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping the World
  • Youth At Risk -- The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is great resource for finding recent and relevant statistical data about risky behaviors that students engage in, which are often some of the controversial issues about which students write.  The YRBS site includes statistics about drug use, sexual behavior, and other negative behaviors that could affect health (like seatbelt wearing and attending PE classes every day). Ms. McMillan's suggested resource.


Government Documents and Statistics


Have a Good Source to Add?

Click here and add the URL and what you have used it for in your research.  Thanks for taking the time;  this will help your fellow students, future APELites and your librarian.


Password Suggestion

ATTENTION JUNIORS:  It is time to select the database password for your upcoming senior year. Submit your password suggestions by clicking on the Password button.  All juniors will vote on the suggestions in May.




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