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WRPR 160: Borders, Walls and Bridges (HC): Search Tips

Writing Program 160: Borders, Walls and Bridges: Cultural Approaches to Divided Cities (Farber) Spring 2015

Searching Strategies and Techniques

Journal databases and library catalogs are content-rich and constructed for many different types of inquiries.  Use the searching strategies and techniques outlined below to capture relevant content.  This will produce more focused results than a simple keyword search.

In putting together search terms, think about the topic and how specific you want it to be. You will find often that there is more material than you expected and that you actually want to focus your search by adding a further concept.

You might be interested in finding out more about disability studies.  After browsing some books, you decide that prejudice and lack of understanding in regard to the disabled are issues you want to research.  From reading you find that these concepts are often described as ableism.

  • Use AND to join two different concepts together, seeing only those results that discuss both ideas.      

  • Use OR to include synonyms for relevant results. Group the synonyms within parentheses to be searched correctly.


  • Use truncation to get words with similar spellings in one search: politic* — searches for "politic," "politics," "political," and "politicize."


  • For truncation within a word, use a question mark: wom?n — searches for "women," "woman," and "womyn"


  • Put phrases in double quotation makrs for exact searches: "magic realism" — searches for those words together in that order


Too many results?  Change the search field to Abstract which summarizes the content or Subject for more focused results

When you find a journal article that interests you, look at the abstract and subject terms.  

Are there ideas that relate to your topic? Use those new concepts to look for additional articles.