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ANTH 281: Environmental Anthropology (HC)

Anthropology 281: Nature/Culture: An Introduction to Environmental Anthropology (Culbertson) Fall 2018

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:  The Future of Energy, by Brian F. Towler. Elsevier Science, 2014.


            Energy industries

            Power resources

            Power (mechanics)

            Subject search Energy industries =40 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:

            Environmental (health OR ethics) Case studies =28 relevant results

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 sustainability AND bicycle will return items that contain both "sustainability" and "bicycle":


"Global warming" OR "climate change" returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

"Environmental activists" NOT "Deep Green Resistance" returns items that talk about groups other than DGR:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("social change") or titles:

For example, "theater of the oppressed"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 1979 text by Augusto Boal.


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 environment*  to find environment, environmental, environmentalism, 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, ("environmental activism" OR "environmental justice") AND (ethnicity OR inequality OR marginaliz*) will return results for the union of the two subject areas.

In the GreenFILE database this search returns results including: "Grassroots Activism: An Exploration of Women of Color's Role in the Environemental Justice Movement" by Shirley Rainey and Glenn Johnson. (2009). Race, Gender & Class, Vol. 16, Issue 3/4, p.144-173.