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Expos 20: Wastelands

A Research Guide

21st Century Wastelands

What claim are you making about the wasteland you've chosen? And what do you need to know about the wasteland to support your claim?

  • Its history;
  • Its physical environment;
  • Its social, political, economic and cultural context
  • Anything else?

This is where research comes in.

Research Tips

► Choose relevant keywords. You might start with the name of the wasteland you've chosen -- e.g., the BJAT Superfund Site in Franklin, Mass. If that doesn't bring up enough material, try using a more general word or phrase: e.g., hazardous waste sites.

► Add more keywords that express your idea or claim: e.g., slums

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

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

► Think of synonyms or other alternative words or phrases: e.g., deserted, abandoned, derelict, ruined, empty, isolated, uninhabited, forsaken, desolate, neglected, forgotten.

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

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

► Search news databases for facts about the wasteland, what caused it, or what controversies or movements have arisen in response to it.

► Scan the bibliographic references or footnotes of an article or a book for other good sources.

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

Browse HOLLIS by Subject, using subject headings that you find in the book records: e.g., Waste (Economics) in literature.