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ENGL 1410: Writing the Body: Search Tips

Make a Search Strategy

Limiters

This is where you'll find limiters when searching in most databases and in OneSearch, on the left side of the page. These are some common limiters and how to use them. 

Publication Year

Use this limiter to restrict your results to recent publications.

Source or Content Type

Use this limiter to restrict your results to books, journal articles, newspaper articles, or reference books.

Subject or Discipline

Use this limiter to narrow the subject area of your results.

Scholarly or Peer Reviewed

Use this limiter to narrow your results to only scholarly and peer reviewed articles, but remember this limiter isn't fool proof. 

Full Text Online

This is one limiter you should not use. You might be able to find an article you're interested in, and the full text isn't online or isn't in that particular database. If that happens, email the article information to your class librarian or the research assistance desk to get the article another way.

Keep Two Words Together

Use quotation marks

When you have a term that includes 2 or more words, you should use quotation marks around the term to hold it together.

If you enter eating disorder into our databases or catalog, it will bring back results on just eating and on just disorders. But you want results on eating disorders, so use quote marks to let the database know you want the whole term. 

Instead enter:

"eating disorder"

Get Keywords

Why do you need keywords?

Databases, OneSearch, and the catalog don't work well if you use long phrases like, "How are certain eating disorders represented in films?" Instead, pick out the main ideas: eating disorders, represented, and films.

Why do you need so many keywords?

You'll get different results depending on which words you use, so it's important to brainstorm a variety of keywords to use in your search. Think about your main ideas that you plan to search and what related concepts or synonyms you could use. 

  • Try to mix things up - include some narrower and broader terms on your list and think about what you really mean by each term. For instance, instead of using eating disorders, I could name the less represented disorders I'm really curious about, like bingeing or bulimia. 
  • Avoid bias (or don't) - biased language will bring back biased results. This can be bad most of the time, but helpful if you're looking for a specific perspective. 

Where can I find more keywords?

If you're stuck trying to come up with more keywords, try one of these options out:

  • Use a reference source, like an encyclopedia, a thesaurus, or Wikipedia to find other terms.
  • Find a recent news article on your topic and look at what words they use.
  • Ask a librarian for help.

Use Boolean Operators

Word art depicting and, or, and notCombine your keywords in different ways to get better results. Link different keywords and concepts together using Boolean operators. In the pictures, your results would be the dark grey area(s) where the circles overlap.

AND 

Looks for results that include both terms. Use this to link different concepts that you want to see in the article. E.g. eating disorders AND representation.

 

 

OR

Looks for results that contain one term or the other. Use this to combine similar keywords in order to find more results. E.g. eating disorders OR bulimia OR bingeing AND representation

 

 

 

NOT

Looks for results that exclude a certain term. Use this to elminate results that talk about a related issue that you might not be interested in. E.g. eating disorders OR bulimia OR bingeing AND representation NOT anorexia