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Spark: Visual Piety (Tran): Search Strategies

Selfies of the Divine

Connect Search Terms with Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators are words you can use between your search terms to either broaden or limit your search.

Use OR to broaden your search. For example, if you search advertising OR commercials, you will find articles that include either term.

Boolean - OR

In contrast, use AND and NOT to narrow your search. For example, if you search advertising AND commercials, you will only find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - AND

And, if you search advertising NOT commercials, you will find articles that include the word advertising, except for those that also include the term commercials. In Google, use a minus sign instead of NOT (e.g. advertising -commercials).

Boolean - NOT

Find Different Word Variations with Truncation

Use a truncation symbol (the asterisk * is the most common) to look for different word endings. You can also use it to replace letters.

  • art* = art, arts, artisan, artisans, artistic, artwork, artworks, etc.
  • wom*n = woman, women
  • archeaolog* = archaeology, archaeologic, archaeological, archaeologist, archaeologists,etc.

You do have to be careful with truncation. Sometimes you might get unexpected results.

  • minor*= minor, minors, minority, minorities
  • polic* = policy, policies, police, policing

Find Phrases with Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase (two words or more).

  • “self-expression"
  • "cave paintings"
  • spiritual presence
  • "pop culture"

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies

Question 1

Let's say you are writing a paper about cave paintings in Spain.

Which search is the most appropriate?

"cave paintings" OR Spain: 0 votes (0%)
"cave paintings" AND Spain: 7 votes (100%)
Total Votes: 7

Question 2

Let's say you are writing a paper about how botánicas contribute to culture.

Which search is the most appropriate?

botánica AND culture: 7 votes (100%)
botánica OR culture: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 7

Question 3

Let's say you are writing a paper about how mummies are represented in novels.

Which search is the most appropriate?

(mummy OR mummies) AND (fiction OR books*): 3 votes (50%)
(mummy OR mummies) AND (fiction OR book*): 3 votes (50%)
Total Votes: 6