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English 4996: Guide to Resources: Writing Climate Change

Resources to support writing about climate fiction, "cli-fi", and climate change in literature and in the history of science.

How to Communicate with a Database

Databases are more literal than literate. They function by matching words--exactly. Generally they don't adapt for varied spellings, misspellings, or typos. Some may automatically search for related terms, but most count on the user to think of all possible search terms.

  • Think of possible terminology to search and watch the descriptors/tags and other terminology that turns up in your search results. It's helpful to keep a list of commonly used terms.
  • Remember that British and American spelling can differ and singular/plural forms can vary.
  • Truncation--usually the asterisk (*)--can be used to retrieve terms with a common root: e.g. environment* retrieves environment, environmental, environmentalist, environmentalism.
  • Wildcard symbols can be used to retrieve variants within the root of a word, including different spellings and the possible presence of an extra character. For example, colo#r retrieves color, colour; wom?n retrieves woman, women, womyn
    These symbols vary among databases, so check the help page in each to find the specific symbols used.
  • Use quotation marks to retrieve an exact phrase: "climate fiction".
  • Use the OR connector to retrieve several synonymous terms: "climate fiction" OR clifi OR cli-fi.
  • Use the AND connector to retrieve the overlap among several concepts: science AND history AND ("climate fiction" OR clifi OR cli-fi).

Research by Association

Research is an ongoing discussion or conversation, a social activity. One way to engage and explore is to follow the trails of association.

In online sources many of these associations are hot-linked so you can explore further by simply clicking a link on an author's name, a journal title, a descriptor or subject term, a library catalog call number.

Some databases provide links from the citations in an article or links to more recent works that cite the article you're looking at. If links are not automatically provided, you can often replicate this by searching for an author/article title in Discover@MU. (Use the full text search to find more recent works citing the source you're interested in.)

Some databases include a small widget that links out to social media posts or other citations.