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POLS 224: The American Presidency (HC)

Political Science 224: The American Presidency (Oberfield) Spring 2017

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 presidency  AND leadership will return items that contain both concepts":


leadership OR decision making returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:

united states NOT latin america returns items that talk about the United States of America but do not mention Latin America:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("decision making") or titles:

For example, "Strategic President Persuasion and Opportunity"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2012 book   Strategic President: Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership


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.

presiden*   (leader* OR (success OR successful OR "decision mak*") AND ("united states" OR america*)  will return results for the union of the three subject areas

 Results include:  Eshbaugh-Soha, Matthew, and Jeffrey S. Peake. Breaking Through the Noise: PresidentialLeadership, Public Opinion, and the News Media.  Stanford University Press, 2011.

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:  Two Presidents are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch

By David Orentlicher .  New York University Press, 2013.


                           presidents  united states

                           executive departments  united states

                           political leadership  united states

                           united states  politics and government  decision making

   Subject search   presidents  political leadership united states  =  148 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:

  (Subject:presiden* AND Keyword:(success OR successful) OR "decision making")  =  288  results

                        Searches a composite group of terms about presidential success