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CTY: Center for Talented Youth Library Resources (HC)

Center for Talented Youth Summer 2017

Tips for Searching Part 1

Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may have been 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:  Treating Young Veterans by Diann Kelly (2011).


            Post-traumatic stress disorder Treatment

            Veterans Health and hygiene

            Disabled veterans Rehabilitation

            War neuroses Treatment


            Subject search War neuroses Treatment=5 results

            Broadening to War neuroses=65 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.

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

To ensure this, you can use subject headings you have already found.  Another option is to browse in the subject headings for more choices.                   

      Combination subject search:

      "War neuroses Prevention" OR "Post-traumatic stress disorder Prevention"

Recommended Subject Headings

These links go to subject searches for books on Tripod. You can use these same subject headings to search for articles in Tripod or on specific databases. Remember, you can narrow your search by limiting fields on the right, including format type, language, and year of publication.

Tips for Searching Part 2

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 combat AND PTSD will return items that contain both "combat" and "PTSD":


soldier OR veteran returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

reintegration NOT marine returns items that talk about reintegration of non-Marine military personnel:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("battlefield medicine") or titles:

For example, "combat trauma"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2010 text by James D. Johnson.


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 militar*  to find military, militarism, militaries, 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.

For example, (medicine OR health OR injury OR trauma*) AND ("Iraq war" OR "Iraq veteran*") will return results for the union of the two subject areas.

In the Proquest Sociology database this search returns results including "Military Sexual Trauma During Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan: Prevalence, Readjustment, and Gender Differences" by Katz et al. Violence and Victims 27.4 (2012): 487-499.