Public Gardens, Plato, and Horror Movies

Welcome back to This Week in Reference! Research papers and final exams brought DePaul scholars into the library to finish up winter quarter with a bang, and to escape one (hopefully!) last bout of snow.

Here is a sample of topics our Research Librarians and Peer Research Tutors helped researchers wrestle with before spring break:


  • Plato’s views on leisure and gymnastics
  • Escapism and horror films
  • Corporate/institutional branding of public gardens
  • Children’s experiences in blended families
  • Automated refuse collection vehicles
  • What is the purpose of pain in literature?
  • Ethnocracy in modern American politics
  • Currency exchange rate forecasts
  • Civil War general George B. McClellan
  • Equal-pay-for-equal-work initiative in Iceland


An in-depth look at a question we received by email illustrates that sometimes by reframing and expanding on a question we can uncover information that a simpler, more literal database search cannot:

Question: How can thrill seekers use the escapism of watching horror films as a means to get what they need?

Answer: When a database search on horror films and escapism/thrill-seeking yielded few articles, the librarian instead suggested exploring the appeal of horror films amongst moviegoers.

Using subject databases like Film & Television Literature Index and PsycInfo, our Librarian found some solid research exploring what draws people to this genre. By reading through some of the articles’ abstracts, the librarian was able help the researcher discover more specialized words, such as motivation and psychological aspects, as well as additional popular words for horror, like slasher and gore.  Another good strategy for finding more articles is to notice how the database categorizes your topic – the term motion pictures is often used for movies or films. Tweaking your word choices multiple times as you learn more about your topic will help you discover more relevant results! Here is the search the librarian helped the researcher develop: As you can see, it includes the concepts of escapism and horror films, but also probes at additional reasons why horror films hold such appeal.

Curious about something? We look forward to connecting you with the information you need. Visit our Research Help Librarians and Peer Research Tutors in person, or connect with us online! Thanks for reading and Happy Spring!

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