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FYS: History Rocks! (2018): Getting Started

This is a guide for Professor Coogan's FYS.

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.

Brainstorming keywords

Library databases are organized around concepts and in order to effectively search a database you will need to use keywords that represent your topic.  When you begin your research first identify key concepts.  Once you know what those are you can begin brainstorming keywords.  Be sure to think of some keywords that are broader and some that are more narrow. 

Example Topic  "How was rock and roll influenced by the U.S. Civil Rights Movement?"

Concepts: rock and roll & U.S. & Civil Rights Movement

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/Theories (e.g. homosexuality, women of color)
  • Titles
  • Genres

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

Group Brainstorming

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Your Librarian

Rebecca Seipp's picture
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