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Eng 151 / GASP 103S: Search Strategies

Advanced Shakespeare

Searching in Databases

These strategies will help you search, whether you are using library databases, online resources, or books.

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators such as AND (narrows) and OR (broadens) are used to join search terms together.

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

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

Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks are used to search for a specific phrase. They limit or narrow your search.

  • "Midsummer Night's Dream"
  • "theater history"
  • "historical context"

Truncation

Truncation allows a search engine to look for variant endings of a word. Use a symbol (* is the most common) at the end of a truncated word. Truncation broadens or expands your search.

  • perform* will search for perform, performs, performance, performers, etc.
  • colleg* finds college, collegium, collegial
  • politic* will search for politic, politics, political, politicly, etc.

Some databases also allow you to use a symbol at the beginning or in the middle of a word

  • col*r will search for color or colour
  • *politic will search overpolitic, prepolitic, pseudopolitic, etc.

Mash them Up

You can use multiple search strategies simultaneously.

Example:

"midsummer night's dream"

AND

power*

AND

gender OR sex