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Your guide to finding academic sources for your papers and assignments in Anthro classes.

The Research Process

Paper with Magnifying Glass by Unicon LabsSpend some time trying to understand what your instructor wants. For example, you may be asked to write a research paper on a particular aspect of something broader you are discussing in class. It may help to jump into a background resource to get a broad understanding of the topic again. A background resource might be an online encyclopedia of some kind.

Image from Uniconlab

Take notes as you read the background source. Did your brain gravitate to any particular angle on the topic? Is this something you could pursue in your paper?

Brain and pencil iconAfter exploring the broad topic in a background resource (such as Credo), and thinking through your focus/aspect, it's a good idea to write down words to help with the search.

The table below is an example on how to brainstorm related, synonymous, and adjacent terms that might help you find great sources! The words you use access different information from different communities. 

Example research topic: gentrification (and what about it??)

Image from Pause08

Search Word Brainstorm
main words main topic: gentrification focus/angle: economics

Bay Area, housing inequality, dense housing,

urban environment

scarcity, socio economic, lower class,

upper class, poverty, low income, tech

Try the library's OneSearch to cross search all the excellent content you have access to as a CCSF student! CCSF Library resources are often NOT available for free in a Google Search.

Here is an example using some of the words we brainstormed in the previous part of our process: 

Example OneSearch process - using Advanced search option: line 1 - used search word gentrification; line 2 - used San Francisco search word; line 3: economy or financial or scarcity (search words)

(Want to see? The demo search is available.)


By skimming your first page of results, you will get a sense of whether your combination of search words was helpful. If there is not one single helpful result on the page, go back to your word brainstorm and replace an old search word with a new one. Here are some things to consider when looking at the results of a search: 

Magnifying Glass by Slidicon Icon by Slidicon

  1. Skim the initial set of results and think, "Where are my search words coming up?"
    • In the title?
    • In the subjects?
    • When you click into the item, do you see any of your search words in the abstract?
  1. Look at the page length of the items you are surfacing.
    • This is not to say that you don't want to use long items - there are some gems in there! But think about your assignment and the amount of time you have to complete it. If an item is too long to use in it's entirety (such as an entire ebook), you may be able to use a section (such as a relevant chapter within an ebook). 
  2. Can you focus your search beyond the words you put in? In some library tools, you may see some check boxes to adjust your results.
    • If you are looking for academic sources, clicking the filter for "Peer-reviewed journals" may help.
    • You may also want to adjust the date range of results. 
Resist the urge to pick ALL of your needed sources in one go!
Instead, pick a couple of sources, read them deeply, and take notes.
You can find more in your next layer of searching!

Did you read your first few sources? Really REALLY read them? Good! Your brain is probably swirling with ideas! Good ones, bad ones, annoyed ones, anxious ones. These are all okay.

What are you thinking about? What did you highlight the most? What is sparking interest in your brain?


  • Pay attention to what your brain is gravitating toward,
  • brainstorm some new search words, and
  • search again!

You will find results that did not come up last time, and your search words will be even more specific to your interest, and this will help you find what you need to write your paper. By giving your brain room to think deeply, you can find even more sources to include in your project, and they will help you write an amazing research paper.

Good luck! We are here in the library and ready to help. Contact us today!

Image from lutfix

You have likely been taking notes all along! But now you're really sitting down to write the paper, and you might want some help. While the library can help you think about research topics, find sources, and cite them, it's best to turn to the experts in the actual writing of the paper. In that case, we recommend:

The English Lab Online

The English Lab is a free and useful resource for all CCSF students.  They can review reading assignments, offer help in writing and revising writing, and provide activities to help with other reading and writing issues.

The English Lab has faculty and peer tutors with available appointments to meet with you on Zoom.  Make an appointment today!

Enroll in the free English Lab Online to find ways to get expert, free help available to all CCSF students.

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