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HLTH 218: Experiencing and Responding to Illness and Disability (HC) Spring 2016

HLTH 218: Experiencing and Responding to Illness and Disability: 1793-1930 (Taylor)

Tips for Searching Part 1

Keywords allow you to construct a search that reflects multiple issues in your research question. Building sets of related concepts and looking for their overlaps gives you more relevant and precise results.  This approach is called Boolean searching using the operators AND, OR, NOT.

For example, a search for history  AND medicine will return items that contain both of the concepts:


medicine OR "public health" returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

america NOT latin  returns items that discuss the United States but do not mention Latin America:

Phrase searching:

Enclose phrases in quotations marks.  This is an important strategy for getting exact results when searching phrases (e.g., "yellow fever"") or conducting known-item searches for titles ("Medical Progress and Social Reality") .


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, politicians, 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, (medicine OR medical OR health*) AND (history) AND ("united states" OR america*)  will return results for the union of the three subject areas.

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 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:  Women and Health in America: Historical Readings

By Judith Walzer Leavitt et al.  University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.


          women  health and hygiene  united states  history

          women  united states  sexual behavior  history

          women  diseases  united states  history

          women in medicine  united states  history

            Subject search   women  health and hygiene  united states  history    = 28 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:  (disease* OR infect* OR epidemic*) AND history AND Keyword:("united states" OR america*) =  243 results