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POLS 151: International Politics (HC)

Political Science 151: International Politics (Mendelsohn) Spring 2016

Tips for Searching Part 1

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 environment  AND wildlife will return items that contain both "wildlife" and "environment":


environment OR ecology returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

central america NOT costa rica returns items that talk about the region but do not mention the country Costa Rica:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("political ecology") or titles:

For example, "Biodiversity under threat"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2011 film about Bengal tigers in Bangladesh.


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, 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.


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: An Introduction to the Causes of War: Patterns of Interstate Conflict from World War I to Iraq

written by Greg Cashman and Leonard Robinson.  Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.


                           war causes

                           war causes case studies

                           military history, modern 20th century

                          military history, modern 21st century


            Subject search   military history, modern 21st century  =  34 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:

             (military OR War) 21st [as Subjects] strateg* [as Keyword]  =  80 results     [when limited to publications 2010-2016]

                                        Searches war strategies within the context of the modern era