Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Scholarship as Conversation
Start with a Broad Topic
As you begin preliminary searching, start with a broad topic. Below are some examples:
- Racism and film
- Race relations and film
- African American men and film
- African American women and film
- African Americans and stereotypes and film
Practice: Comparing and Evaluating Search Tools
Choose a broad topic (no more than 2-3 concepts) and conduct a preliminary investigation into the topic using three different search tools: Google Scholar, a multidisciplinary database, and a subject database. Use the same terms for each search tool.
Write your search terms on the worksheet linked below.
Respond to the following questions:
- How many results did you get?
- What types of sources are included?
- Are the sources popular, scholarly or both?
- Scan the first two pages of search results. List some aspects of your topic discussed.
- Rank the search tools in order of relevance to your topic, with one being the most relevant.
The databases listed below are examples of multidisciplinary search tools.
Through these databases you will find scholarly articles, popular magazine articles, newspaper articles, and many other types of materials that have been published in periodicals that come from a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives.
Searching these databases is an excellent way to discover which disciplines have studied your topic, and get a sense of the different perspectives they bring to the topic.
Academic Search Premier
A multidisciplinary database containing full text journal, magazine & newspaper articles, many from peer-reviewed titles. This scholarly collection covers information in nearly every area of academic study.
Research Library (ProQuest)
Features the full text of a diversified mix of scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines and newspapers covering all academic subject areas.
Recommended Subject Databases
These subject databases may be especially useful for your research projects for this class. Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases.
Film & Television Literature Index
An index to film and television literature.
FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals
Contains article citations from academic and popular film journals. Also included is The Treasures from the Film Archives dataset; a database containing credits and information about the silent-era film holdings of archives from around the world, and a full text set of key reference volumes such as the Oxford History of World Cinema (OUP, 1997) and Film Analysis: A Norton Reader (Norton, 2005).
Communication & Mass Media Complete
Provides access to research in areas related to communication and mass media.
MLA International Bibliography
The key database for identifying scholarly books, essays, articles, and dissertations on modern literature in all languages. Also covers cultural studies, folklore, film studies, and linguistics.
America: History & Life
Indexes articles, books, essays in books, and dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.
Performing Arts Periodicals Database
Provides indexing, abstracts and some full-text, for international periodicals. Covers a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, stagecraft, musical theater, circus performance, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, performance art, film, television and more.
Black Studies Center
Includes scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, reference books, and much more. Including The Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, Index to Black Periodicals Full Text, Black Literature Index, and the Chicago Defender historical newspaper from 1912-1975.
Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Collins Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. Use the databases listed on the page as well as others found on the database A-Z list.
- Use advanced searching to search phrases, authors, publications, and dates.
- Google Scholar includes many citations that link directly to publishers' web sites of which most will charge a fee for access. However, Collins Library may subscribe to these publications. Search the journal title in Primo.
- Google Scholar provides forward citation searching, automatically extracting and displaying works cited as separate results.
Use these search tips to get the most relevant results.
- When searching a specific phrase that contains two or more words, use quotes around the phrase.
- "African American men"
- "comedy films"
- Use AND to narrow a search.
- "African American women" AND stereotypes AND film
- Use OR for synonyms to broaden a search.
- "African Americans" AND "motion pictures" AND (cops OR detectives or police)
When searching specific films:
- With every search add (film OR movie OR motion picture). If the movie title has two or more words, include quote marks.
- Ex. "Princess and the Frog" AND (film OR movie OR motion picture)
- If the movie is one word, add an actor or director. Ex. Butler AND "Lee Daniels" AND (film OR movie OR motion picture)