Common Words and Phrases to Turbo-Charge a Search

For Secondary Sources

  • debate or controversy (or controvers* to pick up variants), or contested or disputed often help you surface works that identify the "stakes" of a particular argument, action, phenomenon, etc. So will words like proponents, advocates or their opposites: opponents or critics.
  • theory or theoretical or philosophy or philosophical might help you find works in larger contexts or examined via a "lens" of some kind. 
  • handbook or companion or encyclopedia  are common words to help identify good background or overview sources.
  • criticism or interpretation are words that will bring up secondary source studies of a book, film, artwork, musical piece, play, artist or writer, etc. 
  • history is a way to get at full-length studies not just of countries or events, but also of ideas and concepts and broad subjects. 
  • Specifically for Studio 20 projects that are looking at barriers to something: try adding that word -- or its opposite, access.

For Primary Sources

  • narrative* or case study or interview* or memoir or even the phrase "lived experiences" might angle topics more specifically toward studies of social relationships, observations of behavior, personal reflections, explanations or first hand "testimony" of some kind.
  • qualitative is one way social science researchers describe their non-numeric data collection methods -- and "qualitative" generally means interviews, focus groups, observed behavior of some kind.
  • Anthropologists sometimes call their observational methods ethnography, so you might try that word (or ethnograph*)  as well.
  • interview is also a great word to use in newspaper searching, when you're looking for primary evidence in the form of personal stories or first-hand accounts and testimonies.
  • While a biography is technically a secondary source (a second-hand account of a life), biographies are built out of a whole host of primary sources: documents, papers, interviews, correspondence, etc.  So you might find your primary sources, sometimes, by "reverse engineering" from a secondary source.