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English 119 (Goggans): Search Strategies

Fashion & Fiction

Search Strategies

  Determine the key ideas and terms in your topic.   Example: I am interested in how fashion was depicted in American literature.
  Think of synonyms or related terms.   clothing OR dress OR fashion OR garment OR purse
  Select useful resources to search.   Databases > Subject > Literature (other subject areas may include History - United States)
  Construct a search strategy.  Start with keyword searching.   Many databases default to a keyword search field.
  Look for a phrase, using quotation marks.

  "literary criticism"| "twentieth century" | "american literature"

  Join similar terms with OR

  "twentieth century" OR "20th century"
  "haute couture" OR "high sewing"

  Join dissimilar terms with AND

  (clothing OR dress) AND ("20th century" OR "twentieth century")
  "custom made garments" AND Paris

  Truncate a term (usually *)   femini* to search for feminine, femininity
  Take advantage of controlled vocabulary. Look for subject terms or descriptors.   SU: Gender identity in literature | SU American literature -- history and criticism
  Limit your search if needed e.g. by date, by format, the field being search.   Too many results? Consider searching in a title or abstract field rather than the full-text.  Looking for primary materials during a specific time; limit by date.
  Examine the bibliographies for relevant materials.   Skim through the citation.  Then look up the known items using a search tool like Melvyl.
  Find a great article?  See who else has cited it.   Web of Science and Google Scholar are using for determining who has referred to (cited) an article.

Time Periods

If you are focusing on a specific time period, consider incorporating terminology to narrow down your search results.  Limiting to a specific time period can often be a challenge.

Library Instructor

Sara Davidson Squibb's picture
Sara Davidson Squibb
Library Office 275D