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ECO 320 Course Guide: Library Research Guide

Background Research

Article Search Tips

When searching the library's databases for articles, keep these tips in mind:

1) Use AND and OR to connect keywords: e.g., "gender gap" AND (income OR pay)

2) Search within specific publications like the Wall Street Journal or The Economist by adding them as keywords

3) Limit by date to get recent articles

4) Watch for editorial or opinion pieces.  You can use these, but recognize that they only represent one perspective on the issue.

Think-Tank Reports

Think-tanks are organizations that conduct scholarly policy analysis and produce reports.  Their objective is to better inform the public and government debate about important issues in the US and internationally.

To get started, do a keyword search in Harvard's Think-Tank Search tool, which searches reports from 1,200 think-tanks:

Think-Tank Search Engine

Keep in mind that many think-tanks take a particular ideological viewpoint, so their reports will be biased.  To get the full picture, look for reports that reflect differing perspectives on your issue.

Government Reports

Don't just Google it!  The US government and international NGOs conduct good-quality research on policy issues.

To find reports written by government agencies, add the following to your Google search:

site:gov filetype:pdf

To find reports written by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), search the country name and the issue, then add the following to your Google search:

site:org filetype:pdf

Magazine and Scholarly Journal Articles

These databases can all be searched simultaneously.  Open Academic Search Premier, click on the Choose Databases link, checkmark the other two, and press OK.

Newspaper Articles


ABC Test

Remember to evaluate any web sources using the ABC test.  If your source isn't relevant and/or doesn't meet all three criteria, you probably shouldn't use it!

Subject Guide

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Jeff Waller
109 Carlyle Campbell Library

Research Tutor at Learning Center

Example News Articles


Zotero is a free tool for managing your references, and creating citations and bibliographies in Microsoft Word.  It involves two components: the Zotero program itself, and a browser add-on for adding items to your Zotero library.

For more information, see our Zotero 101 guide.