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ENWR 2520: Writing the Nonhuman: Animals to Artificial Intelligence

Research guide for students in Patricia Sullivan's Spring 2020 ENWR 2520 class

Preparing for Research

In preparation for your inquiry essay, you should have thought some about possible questions to start your research. You will also want to spend some time thinking about how you will conduct your research. 

  • Fine-tune your searches.
    Think broadly when brainstorming search terms. What synonyms or related terms could stand in for your key search terms?
    You can combine search terms using AND ("animal rights" AND zoos) and OR ("artificial intelligence" OR AI OR "machine intelligence"). 
    In many databases, the asterisk (*) is a truncation or "wildcard" symbol  that will match all possible endings for a word stem.  For example, sex* will match sexism, sexual, sexuality, sexualize, etc. 
    Most databases have filters or facets that allow you to narrow your results by subject, date range, etc. Limit your searches to help you find the sources you need. 

  • Think about where you might find the type of information you are seeking.
    Will you find the research you need in an e-book? An article? A newspaper? A documentary? An interview? Cast a wide net when looking for the types of resources that could help answer your research question or support an argument you are making. 

  • Know the difference between academic and non-academic sources, and when it's appropriate to use them.
    Most databases allow you to limit results to academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. Be mindful of your assignment and what you're being asked to provide. Need a refresher? Watch the short video Peer Review in 3 Minutes.

  • When you find a good source, use it to find other good sources. 
    Use the subject terms and keywords associated with an item to find other items on similar topics.Scholarly books and articles will have works cited, bibliographies, or footnotes you can mine for additional resources. 

Need help? Ask a librarian.  

Finding articles

Multidisciplinary Databases 

CQ Researcher provides award winning in-depth coverage of the most important issues of the day. Our reports are written by experience journalists. footnoted and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Graphics, photos and short "sidebar" features round out the reports. Shorter "Hot Topics" articles provide a solid introduction to subjects most in demand by students.NOTE: This is a credible source but not a scholarly source. Good for an overview of current and/or controversial topics.

Academic Search Complete is a large general database of articles from scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers on many topics. Updated daily, it can be the best source for resources about very current topics.

ProQuest offers UVa faculty, staff, and students access to 35 separate databases, covering numerous fields from the hard sciences to social sciences, as well as newspapers, government records, and statistical data.

JSTOR includes older issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines, from the start to 3-5 years ago.

Project Muse Searchable full text of nearly 600 scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, mostly from North American university presses. Older volumes are often available from JSTOR.

Subject-Specific Databases

Art Full Text (1929-present) includes articles and art reproductions in all arts media from selected periodicals. Art Index Retro covers 1929-1984 and Art Index Full Text 1984-present. Abstracts are included from 1994 on; full-text of articles from some journals from 1997 on.

Biological Sciences (1982-present) Search together a broad range of biology databases covering topics such as biomedicine, biotechnology, zoology, ecology, and some aspects of agriculture and veterinary science.

Computers & Applied Sciences Complete inlcudes ournals and other reference sources covering engineering and the business and social aspects of new technology as well as computer theory and systems.

ERIC provides access to more than 1.4 million bibliographic records of journal articles, most of which are peer-reviewed, and other education-related materials, with hundreds of new records added multiple times per week. If available, links to full text are included.

MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) indexes the broadest range of resources about literature in all languages, as well as film, television, and popular culture, including over 4,000 journals as well as books and dissertations. For articles not available full-text in MLA, click on “Find article @ UVa Libraries,” or look up the journal title in VIRGO.

Finding books & articles using Virgo

Virgo, the UVA Library’s primary search tool, contains catalog records for books, print journals, DVDs, maps, and digitized materials, as well as links to online articles from our rich array of subscription journals. You can search catalog materials and articles together, or view those results separately, using the facets provided to limit your results by author, format, publication period, and more.  To find online content, use the Format limiters like EBook, Streaming Video, or Online to limit your catalog search results. 

Example subject terms - Animals: 

  • Animal Behavior
  • Animal Rights
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals in Art (or in Literature, or in Folklore)
  • Domestic Animals
  • Working Animals - Moral and Ethical Aspects
  • Wild Animal Trade
  • Wildlife Crimes 
  • Wildlife Smuggling
  • Zoos - Social Aspects 

Example subject terms: Artificial Intelligence

  • Artificial Intelligence - Educational Aspects
  • Artificial Intelligence - Social Aspects 
  • Human-Computer Interaction - Social Aspect
  • Labor Supply - Effect of Technological Innovations on
  • Robotics in Medicine
  • Technology - Social Aspects 

Example E-Books of Interest