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 sociology AND theory will return items that contain both "sociology" and "theory":
semiotics OR signification returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:
ritual NOT religio* returns items that talk about non-religious ritual:
An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("public sphere") or titles:
For example, "culture industry"
will search for those words in that order, finding the 1991 collection of Adorno essays.
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 politic, 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.
When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.
For example, (interaction* OR "face-to-face") AND (relation* OR social) AND theory will return results for the union of the two subject areas.
In the Proquest Sociology database this search returns results including David Unrah. "Characteristics and Types of Participation in Social Worlds." (Fall 1979). Symbolic Interaction 2.2, 115-130.