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RELG 118: Hebrew Bible (HC)

Religion 118: Hebrew Bible: Literary Text and Historical Context (N. Koltun-Fromm) Spring 2016

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:  Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice

Edited by Sally M. Promey .  Yale University Press, 2014.


                           religion and culture

                           senses and sensation  religious aspects

                           materialism  religious aspects

   Subject search   materialism  religious aspects  =  25 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:

   (food OR cook*)  relig*  =  116  results

                        Searches a composite group of terms about food

                        within the context of religion



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 material culture  AND religion will return items that contain both concepts":


material culture OR artifact returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:

united states NOT latin america returns items that talk about the United States of America but do not mention Latin America:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("material culture") or titles:

For example, children's bibles"

will search for those words in that order, finding, among other titles, the 2012 book Text, Image and Otherness in Children's Bible: What is in the Picture?


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.

("material culture" OR artifact*) AND  (relig* OR judaism OR christian* OR islam*) AND ("united states" OR america*) NOT history  will return results for the union of the three subject areas with an emphasis on the contemporary rather than the historical.

 Results include:  "Believing in Elvis: Popular Piety in Material Culture" by Erika Doss IN   Practicing religion in the age of the media: explorations in media, religion, and culture.  Columbia University Press, 2002.