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:
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.
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.