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ANTH 155: Anthropology of Religion (HC)

Themes in the Anthropology of Religion: Ritual (Noonan-Ngwane) Spring 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:  Magic, science, and religion, and other essays by Malinowski, 1984.




            Subject search Religion=over 22,000 results!

            Narrowing to Religion and culture History=9 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:

      "Religion and culture Africa" OR "Religion Africa"=17 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 ritual AND theory will return items that contain both "ritual" and "theory":


indigenous OR aboriginal returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

magic NOT neo-pagan returns items that talk about magic but not neo-Pagan belief:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("structural functionalism") or titles:

For example, "ritual and performativity"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2009 text by Anton Bierl.


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, (mythology OR cosmology) AND (methodology OR "case stud*") will return results for the union of the two subject areas.

In the Anthropology Plus database this search returns results including: "Power, Prayer, and Protection: Comb Ridge as a Case Study in Navajo Thought" by Robert McPherson, 2010. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Vol.34, No.1, p.1-23.