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HIST 268: War and Military Culture in China (HC): Advanced Searching

History 268: War and Military Culture in China (Smith) Fall 2016

Advanced Searching Tips

Advanced Searching in Tripod


1.)  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.

Related concepts   (opium OR narcotic* OR opiate* OR drug*)      

                                    Tips: Enclose in parentheses

                                               Capitalize the ORs

                                                *  ( Truncate)   Searches root words with all the different endings; politic* = politics, politician, political, etc.

                                                “  “  Enclose phrases in quotation marks, e.g.  “china trade”  to get the words together in that order


Overlaps   (opium OR narcotic* OR opiate* OR drug*) (china OR chinese) (trade OR smuggl*)            

                                      Tips: Add the other related concept groups

                                              Tripod automatically supplies the AND between parentheses so that you see only titles that have at                                                                         least 1 keyword from each of the 3 groups



Results      (opium OR narcotic* OR opiate* OR drug*)  (china OR chinese) (trade OR smuggl*) = 156 titles in Tripod

                                    Results display automatically in relevancy order with the records having the highest number of keywords appearing first

                                    Sorting for the newest books first shows recent scholarship

                                    Sorting by oldest books is useful for finding primary sources


2.) 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:  China's millions: the China Inland Mission and late Qing society, 1832-1905.

by Alvyn Austin.  William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2007.


                                                China Inland Mission.

                                                Missions > China > History > 19th century.

                                                China > Church history > 19th century

            Subject search   missions china history  =  90 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:

                                           mission*  (china OR chinese)  19th  =  13 results

                                                Searches both missionaries and missions

                                                19th century added to specify the time period


3.) Other Databases 

Other databases covering journal articles and primary sources also rely on advanced searching with AND and OR.  Historical Abstracts and America History and Life work best if you build synonyms together in one box in parentheses, e.g. (trade or smuggl*) and leave the connectors as ANDs.

The China: Trade, Politics and Culture database automatically treats any string of words as a phrase having to be found next to each other in that order.  Use the separate search boxes and the OR and AND options to represent the different aspects of your search.