The large number of citations in many catalogs and databases requires one to limit otherwise broad or general searches in order to retrieve a manageable and pertinent number of results. Conversely, 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 one to limit or expand searches depending on his or her needs.
For example, a search for relevant search term AND relevant search term will return items that contain both relevant search term and relevant search term:
Relevant search term OR relevant search term returns items that contain either relevant search term or relevant search term or both:
Relevant search term NOT relevant search term returns items that contain relevant search term but not relevant search term:
An important strategy for one to employ when researching phrasal concepts (e.g., "relevant search term") or conducting known-item searches for titles:
- For example, relevant search term will search for relevant AND search AND term.
- However, "relevant search term" in quotation marks will search for relevant search term explained.
When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is helfpul to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.
- For example, (relevant search term OR relevant search term) AND relevant search term will return results for relevant search term and any one (or both) of the parenthetical terms.
- Many catalogs or databases will have an "advanced search" option, which provides multiple search bars to facilitate nested searching.
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 searching works similarly: a search for t??th will return results for teeth, tooth, tenth, and so on.
Use the dropdown menu to search by keyword, subject, author, title, or ISSN number:
Use the filters on the right-hand side of the results page to refine your results by:
- Full-text or peer-reviewed articles
- Resource type
- Specific authors/creators
- Specific topics (subject headings)
- Journal titles
- Date range
- Other delimiters
Filters can be removed by clicking on the gold box under "Remove Filters" at the top of the column.
Tripod Articles is quite extensive, but not comprehensive. Searching in smaller and subject-specific databases can often yield a more manageable and pertinent set of results.