Skip to Main Content

English: 76-10X Series (First-Year Writing): Nevertheless Belief Persists: Denialism in Modern America

This guide contains a series of guides designed to help students enrolled in the 76-10X series complete their assignment according to the BEAM framework.


To find background sources, the best strategy is to look at encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, and books.  This strategy applies to library catalogs and databases that contain "reference collections". 
Here is how you can locate these materials:
  1. First and foremost, build a list of related words (synonyms vs antonyms; broad vs narrow terms).  For example, words relating to the general subject on border crossing such as America, United States, etc. Combine them with specific aspects that you are interested in investigating (denial, belief, truth, etc.).  Having a tough time thinking of words? check any online thesaurus
  2. Always use Advanced Search so you can build a specific strategy, using AND, OR, NOT, and specific fields:
    • For example: [Subject] contains Belief System AND [Subject] contains United States
    • OR try  Denial AND America as keywords then narrow further
  3. Don't forget to use truncation (a character that is used to find various spellings).  This is typically automatic in today's searches BUT some databases require it.  Sample characters are * - a star replaces one or more characters at the end (immigr* = immigrant, immigrants, immigration, etc.), a ? typically replaces 1 character in any position in the word (Wom?n = woman and women), and so on.

Here are some sample results from our library catalog, based on the strategies above:

From the library catalog


These sources are more likely to be journals, specialized books, databases that contain data sets.  To find them, you need to think about the type of information you need and ask yourself:
  1. Who might publish that information?  For example, datasets on conflict are typically collected by organizations that have an interest in collecting this information: for example, the united nations, international organizations, gallop or poll reports, etc.
  2. What type of exhibit?  Are you looking at historical data?  current data?  How long of a set?  Are you needing surveys?
  3. Where would this data be published?  reports (by for-profit), gallop surveys (by governments or a non-profit), statistical publications (typically by organizations)?  Original research (typically in journal articles)?

Core Databases

Relevant Guides


The quality of your search and results depend on your search strategy:

  1. keep track of your search terms (they will change based on the database)
  2. keep track of the database (so you are not using the wrong strategy)
  3. notice suggested subjects and ways to limit your searches in databases (they can save you quite a bit of work)