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LING 115: Phonetics and Phonology (Tri-Co) Spring 2016: Researching Languages & Cultures

Linguistics 115 (Overfelt) Spring 2016

Review Articles & Bibliographies

Bibliographies and Literature Reviews are great ways to survey the scholarship on your topic.  Bibliographies provide a curated list of sources, while literature reviews offer prose summaries and assessments of key resources.

Web Searching

Searches on the Open Web can often return irrelevant or non-scholarly results.  Try limiting your search by various domains, or narrow your search using these search tips:

Search any one of multiple terms (as opposed to searching all terms, which is the default):

Limit your search by domain:

  • Limit by country:
  • Limit to academic institutions in the United States:
  • Limit to government websites in Mexico:
  • Limit to non-profit organizations:


Limit your search to words in the title:

Remove unwanted results:

Additional Tips for Searching

Use the the Google Advanced Search screen to conduct advanced searches including, but not limited to, those on the left.

See Google's Cheat Sheet for further tips on constructing and refining your searches.

See Nancy Blachman's GoogleGuide for even more tips.

Searching for Library Resources

Web searching can be a useful approach to finding some resources; however, many resources are available only through subscription databases (e.g., LLBA) or—in the case of books and videos—through library catalogs. 

To find articles, books, and related sources, use the Tripod catalog.  (For items not held by the Tri-Colleges, use WorldCat.) 

Tripod can be explored through two main search stategies: the use of subject headings and keyword searching.

Articles & Dissertations

Use LLBA to find full-text articles and dissertations.

Subject Headings (Books: Tripod & WorldCat)

Keyword searching finds words that appear in a resource record, but the fact that a word appears in a record does not mean that that resources is about the keyword for which you've searched.  To ensure that you are finding sources on your topic, use subject headings, which are "tags" applied by catalogers to help group together sources on a specific topic.

To search for subject headings, either limit a keyword search to the "subject" field, or use Tripod's Browse Books & More feature. (You can also see a list of hyperlinked subject headings within the record for any given book.)

Some sample subject headings include:

Keyword Searching (Books: Tripod & WorldCat)

In order to limit overly broad searches (that result in too many results), or to expand ovelry narrow searches (that result in too few results), use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow one to limit or expand searches depending on his or her needs.

For example, a search for Resnais AND Holocaust will return items that contain both "Resnais" and "Holocaust":


Resnais OR Holocaust returns items that contain either "Resnais" or "Holocaust" or both:

Resnais NOT Holocaust returns items that contain "Resnais" but not "Holocaust":

Phrase searching:

An important strategy for one to employ when researching phrasal concepts (e.g., "European Union") or conducting known-item searches for titles:

For example, Hiroshima Mon Amour will search for Hiroshima AND Mon AND Amour.

However, "Hiroshima Mon Amour" in quotation marks will search for Resnais' film of the same name.


Nested Searching:

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

For example, (memory OR nostalgia) AND Resnais will return results for Resnais and any one (or both) of the parenthetical terms. 

(Many catalogs or databases will have an "advanced search" option, which provides multiple search bars to facilitate nested 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, politicking, and so on.

Wildcard searching works similarly: a search for t??th will return results for teeth, tooth, tenth, and so on.

Selected Journals