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Honors Western Civilization 1

Strategies & tips for locating resources for your research project.

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Topic Ideas

Professor Golden has suggested that you may consider developing your paper based on one of the chapter headings in the Aberth collection of primary sources.  These include:

  1. Origins
  2. Symptoms
  3. Medical Response
  4. Social & Economic Affects
  5. Hysteria
  6. Artistic Response


You can develop your own thesis based upon the interesting elements you find in your readings!

The suggestions in the table below are subject headings that you might consider as you begin searching.

Instead of Use
Bubonic plague
  • Black Death
  • Black Death Europe History
  • Disease Outbreaks AND history AND 14th century
  • Social conditions
  • Plague AND Social aspects
Other suggested subjects
  • Plague in art
  • Diseases & history
  • Medicine, Medieval
  • Middle Ages
  • History, Medieval
  • Civilization, Medieval