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CPGC Internship Resources (HC) 2014-2015

Center for Peace and Global Citizenship Internship Resources Fall 2014-Spring 2015

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:  Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed, by Shannon Bell, University of Illinois Press, 2013.


            Women and the environment--Appalachian Region

            Environmentalism--Appalachian Region

            Human beings--Effect of environment on

            Subject search Environmentalism--Appalachian Region =11 targeted 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:

            Environmentalism (Economic OR Political) aspects =38 relevant results

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 environmentalism AND development will return items that contain both "environmentalism" and "development":


Migrant OR immigrant returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

Africa NOT Egypt returns items that talk about the continent but not the country Egypt:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("Rabelaisian space") or titles:

For example, "casta painting"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2004 text by Ilona Katzew.


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 politic, 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.

For example, (sanitation OR toilet*) AND (Bangalore OR Karnataka) will return results for the union of the two subject areas.

In Proquest Research Library this search returns results including: "Relevance of Water and Sanitation in India" by J. Singh, Anusandhanika 4.2 (July 2012).