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HIST 118: Introduction to the History of Science (HC)

History 118: Introduction to the History of Science (Hayton) Spring 2016

Tips for Searching

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 also called Boolean searching using the operators (AND, OR, NOT). 

For example, a search for medieval AND medicine will return items that contain both terms:

 

medicine OR medical OR health* makes a larger set concerning medical issues:


medicine NOT physician* returns items that discuss medicine without talking about doctors.




Phrase searching:

Enclose phrases in quotations marks.  This is an important strategy for getting exact results when searching phrases (e.g., "black death") or conducting known-item searches for titles.

 

Nested Searching:

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the related terms within a larger Boolean search.

For example, (greek OR roman) AND medicine will return results for medical content and any one (or both) of the parenthetical terms. 

(Many catalogs or databases will have an "advanced search" option, which provides multiple search boxes to facilitate nested Boolean searching.)

 

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, politician, and so on.

Wildcard searching works similarly: a search for wom?n will return results for both woman and women.

Advanced Searching Tips

Advanced Searching in Tripod

                        

 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: 

Universities in the Middle Ages

Written by Hilde de Ridder-Symoens.  Cambridge University Press, 1992.

                                    Subjects:     

                                    universities and colleges  europe  history

                                    learning and scholarship   europe  history   medieval, 500-1500

                                    education, medieval  europe

                                   

            Subject search:    learning and scholarship   europe  history   medieval, 500-1500  =  24 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:

                                         (universit* OR education OR student*) (medieval OR "middle ages") =  120 results

                                                Searches a group of related terms for university education

                                                with the medieval terms added to eliminate titles about the modern era

 

3.) Other Databases 

Other databases covering journal articles and primary sources also rely on advanced searching with AND and OR.  Historical Abstracts and Bibliography of British and Irish History work best if you build synonyms together in one box in parentheses, e.g. (educat* OR teach*) and leave the connectors as ANDs.