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Expos 20: The Art of the Con: Unit 3

A Research Guide

The Assignment

For Essay #3, you will research a con or a popular portrayal of a con––a book, a documentary, a movie––and make an argument about what it helps us understand about one or more facets of American life. You'll use at least 1 primary source and 4-6 secondary sources, at least 2 of which are peer-reviewed.
Sidney Poitier / David Hampton
(sample argument)
Using Sources

Steve Kuehler, Research Librarian
Email me! or --

Research Tips

► Use relevant keywords. You might start with the name of the con, or con artist, you've chosen -- e.g., Bernard Madoff. If that doesn't bring up enough material, try using a more general word or phrase: e.g., Ponzi schemes.

► If necessary, add more keywords that express your idea or claim: e.g., forgery

► Think of synonyms or other alternative words or phrases: e.g., swindle, con, deceive, impersonate, pretend, trick, fool.

► Truncate, or shorten, your keywords with a wildcard character (usually an asterisk) to bring in variations. For example, swindl* will give you search results containing swindler and swindling.

► Use the Advanced Search options to find your keywords in prominent places, such as the title of an article or the subject.

► Every database provides ways to narrow your search results. See the examples from HOLLIS on the next tab. You can always turn off a search limit if it proves too restrictive.

► When you find a really good result, see if its description provides other keywords, headings, or tags that will link to similar material.

► Search news databases for facts about the con, the perpetrator, or the social impact of the con. These can provide more keywords for searching.

► When you find a good article or book, scan the bibliography or footnotes for other good sources.

► In HOLLIS records, click on the Subject links to bring up other books or articles on the same subject.

Browse HOLLIS by Subject, using subject headings that you find in the book records: e.g., Deception -- Psychological aspects.