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RAMS 101: First-Year Seminar, Mulhall-Adelman

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Developing a Search Strategy

Developing a search strategy is key to the success of your research. When you are conducting research you will need to do multiple searches. Some things you want to consider when searching. 

  1. What type information are you looking for? Are you looking for scholarly or popular sources or a mix of both? You may need to search different sources depending on what you are looking for. Ram Search is a good resource for scholarly sources. The newspaper databases listed on this guide are a good place to look for popular sources and sometimes primary sources. The open web is a good place to search for popular and primary sources. 
  2. What questions do you want to answer? What background information do you need? How can you best match your questions to the type of information? Different types of information will be better suited to answering different questions.
  3. What keywords do you will get you to the information you are looking for? Depending on what you are looking for, you may need to do multiple searches. If you are having a hard time finding scholarly sources about the element of Framingham History you are commemorating, you may wish to look for scholarly articles about the type of commemoration you are proposing. 

Searching Library Resources

Ram Search

Ram Search is a good starting point for your research. Searches done in Ram Search will include a mix of scholarly and popular articles, encyclopedia entries, and other source types.

EBSCO Search Box

Ram Search

Search for articles, books, journals, and more!

Additional Databases

The databases listed below are news paper databases. They can be good for finding additional details about your topic like news coverage of new commemorations or the public debate around existing commemorations.

Finding Reliable Sources Using Google

Why use Google?

Many universities and government institutions are actively digitalizing historic materials, but it can be difficult to know where to look. Filtering through a regular Google search can be daunting when faced with results from across the globe. You can use a special strategy when searching Google to find materials from institutions digitizing materials! This strategy also works well for finding background information on a topic, as many cultural institutions write blog posts or introductions to historic events.

The Site: Command

What it does: The site command brings you search results from the site or domain you search. Using this command you can search only within .edu or .gov domains. You can also use it to search the Library of Congress's site,

Examples: site:edu or

Notes: Be careful if searching for Not all websites that end in .edu are universities or other educational institutions, the domain can be used by anyone.

Example Searches

fugitive slave act --> This search will find anything about the fugitive slave act on the Library of Congress website

Anthony Burns site:edu or site:gov --> This search will find anything about Anthony Burns on websites with the .edu or .gov domain

Evaluating Sources


CARS is a checklist for evaluating websites

C - Credibility

  • Is the creator/author named? What is their job? Are they a researcher, journalist, or something else?

A - Accuracy

  • Is the website free of spelling errors, grammatical errors, dead links, or other problems?
  • Does the article have a publication date? Does the publication date align with the requirements for your assignment?

R - Reasonableness

  • Who created the website?
  • Does the website avoid advertising that does not seem appropriate?

S - Support

  • Is there a bibliography or sources listed? In journalistic content this can look like naming sources and hyperlinks.