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ANTH 259: Ethnography of Islam (HC)


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:  Media and Identity in Africa, edited by John Middleton and Kimani Njogu. Edinburgh University Press, 2009.


            Mass media--Africa

            Mass media--Social aspects--Africa

            Mass media--Political aspects--Africa

            Subject search Mass media--Africa =10 targeted 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:

            Mass media (Political OR Social) aspects Africa =14 relevant results

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 Africa AND dance will return items that contain both "Africa" and "dance":


witchcraft OR occult returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

Africa NOT Egypt returns items that talk about the region but do not mention the country Egypt:

Phrase searching:

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

For example, "modernity of witchcraft"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 1997 text by Peter Geschiere.


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, (park* OR preserve*) AND  (animal* OR wildlife) will return results for the union of the two subject areas.

In Proquest Research Library this search returns results including:  Functional Wildlife Parks: The Views of Kenyan Children who Live with Them

Natural Resources Forum 28, 3 (2004): 205-215.