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WRPR 136: Black Ecologies (HC)

Writing Program 136: Black Ecologies (Ebram) Fall 2021

Tips for Searching Part 1

If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review.  At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results.  One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.

For example, a search for history  AND slavery will return items that contain both concepts:

history OR slavery returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:

Germany NOT Finland returns items that talk about Germany but do not mention Finland:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("black and white") or titles:

For example, "The Oxford dictionary of philosophy"

will search for those words in that order, finding the book The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy  Connect from Bryn Mawr College      Icon     Icon

Truncation and Wildcards:

Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.

For example, one could search for politic*  to find poltic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.

Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.

Nested Searching:

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.

philosop* AND religion AND 20th AND ("united states" OR america*)  will return results for the union of the three subject areas

 Results include:  The Religious Critic in American Culture  Connect from Bryn Mawr College   Connect from Haverford College   Connect from Swarthmore College


Tips for Searching Part 2

Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may be searching.

Finding subject headings

       Look at a book record in Tripod, check the subjects assigned to it, and choose whatever ones are relevant for your research.

Example: Freedom Farmers Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement Connect from Bryn Mawr College   Connect from Haverford College   Connect from Swarthmore College


           Black lives matter movement
           Food supply -- Political aspects -- United States -- History
           Food sovereignty -- United States
           Agriculture, Cooperative -- United States -- History
           African Americans -- Political activity -- History
           African Americans -- Social conditions -- History 
           African Americans -- Agriculture -- History 

  Subject search  Black Lives Matter movement =  48 results


Refining subject searches

You can combine different concepts into a single subject search for precision.  The results are more focused than a keyword search.

However, all the words have to be terminology used in library subject cataloging.

To ensure this, you can use subject headings you have already found.                 

Finding and using e-books: Online searching

Virtual Browse