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FYS: What is a Nation? 2021: Keywords & Searching Tips

This guide is for students in Professor Nuñez's first year seminar.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators help you when searching.  The most popular operators are: AND, OR, NOT.  

AND narrows your search, OR expands your search, NOT limits your search

Use the asterisk * to truncate a word and search for all forms.

Ex. Invent* will give you: Invent, Invents, Inventor, Invention


Use the question mark ? as a wildcard symbol.

Ex. Wom?n will search: woman & women

Use quotes to search for a specific phrase rather than just keywords

Ex. "Frog King" will search for the phrase rather than pulling every result that has "frog" and "king" somewhere in the record.

What makes good keywords?

Searching is an iterative process, meaning you will need to search multiple times to find the information you need. Start with broad searches (one or two terms) then add more if needed, and be sure to mix up your keywords. Below is a list of terms or topics that can help you create good keywords:

  • People (e.g. authors, characters, scholars)
  • Themes/Key Terms
  • Events
  • Titles/Published works
  • Genres

Using synonyms is also important. Not returning results for "young adult"? Try "fiction", "novel", or "literature" and see if that changes your results. 

Brainstorming Keywords

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Rebecca Seipp
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Contact:
seipprl@hollins.edu
MSIS, Information Science
The University of Texas at Austin
BA, History
Southwestern University
540.362.6328