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EALC 247: Death and the Afterlife in East Asian Religions (HC)

East Asian Languages and Cultures 247: Death and the Afterlife in East Asian Religions (Glassman) 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 Japan  AND religion will return items that contain both concepts:


poetry OR performance returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:


Japan NOT China returns items that talk about Japan but do not mention China:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("black and white") or titles:

For example, "death and the afterlife in Japanese Buddhism"

will search for those words in that order, finding the book Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism (also available as an E-Book).


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 Japan*  to find Japan and Japanese or politic* to find politician, political, politics, etc.

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.

Buddhis* AND history AND afterlife  will return results for the union of the three subject areas

 Results include:  The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, and Representations.


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 be 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:  The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, Representations

(Multiple Authors) 


               Death > Religious Aspects > Buddhism
               Buddhism > Customs and practices


   Subject search Death > Religious Aspects > Buddhism  =  39 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.

However, 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.