Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
COVID-19 Library Dashboard
Get the latest information on the status of library services and space.
 Ask a Question

Eng 113 & Span 113 (Martin-Rodriguez): Search Terms & Search Strategies

Activity Spreadsheet

Try a search in a database that looks interesting and record what you were able to find on the spreadsheet.

What to include:

  • your research question or topic
  • possible keywords that you might use to search
  • what database you used (e.g., JSTOR, Melvyl, Academic Search Complete, Chicano Database, etc)
  • what did you find?

(We'll go through these step by step.)

Spreadsheet Link

Boolean Operators (AND/OR)



Join together search terms in a logical manner.

AND - narrows searches, used to join dissimilar terms
OR - broadens searches, used to join similar terms


"magical realism" AND gender

womanhood OR femininity

women OR females


Search Terms & Search Strategies

Before you search, pull out some relevant terms to start with in the databases. For example:

What is the significance of the sibling relationships depicted in The House on Mango Street?

significance -- meaning OR context OR symbolism 

sibling relationships -- sisters OR brothers OR siblings OR names of siblings, etc.

Phrase Searching


" "

To search for specific phrases, enclose them in quotation marks. The database will search for those words together in that order.


“Chicana feminism”

“cultural shame”

“magical realism”





Truncate a word in order to search for different forms of the same word. Many database use the asterisk * as the truncation symbol.


Truncate the word education educat* to search for educate, educates, education, educational etc.

Add the truncation symbol to the word cultur* to search for culture, cultures, cultural, etc.