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How to Search

LibGuides for Search Technique and Research Process

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Searching for Resources - beginning approach


Through our WorldCat catalog you can search for books, ebooks, journal articles and even our various media. The following will discuss basic techniques that work with just about any search engine you are familiar with (including Google, Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo).

Keyword Search

This is what most people are familiar with. This is what we do daily when we type something into the Google search box. It basically is a method of searching based on a few points of contact. This works best if you know the author or title of a work. This also works, to an extent, if you are looking for a subject. The keywords that you can use can be: words from the title, descriptive terms related to your topic, the author's name, the format or language of publication, the year of publication, or even the title of a journal.

To improve the accuracy of a Keyword search we often want an exact phrase. A Phrase Search is the exact phrase in the order that you want it, but put into quotation marks. This will return only results that are exactly what you typed into the quotation marks.

Boolean Search

This is a way of constructing a search query (fancy term for what we enter into the search boxes) that adds precision. If you want all the words in your query present, then type AND (in all caps) between each word. AND can be replaced with the plus sign (+) if you wish. OR (in all caps) will search of either word in the query. NOT (again in all caps) will exclude the word after NOT. NOT can be replaced with the minus sign (-).

[hint: AND makes your results list smaller while OR makes the results list larger]

Subject Searching

One of the most efficient methods of searching involves Subject Searching and the use of AND. First, find a book or article that is closely related to your topic. Find, on the right hand side of the screen the "Subjects". Those "subjects" are assigned, by librarians and publishers, and are linked in the catalog to all books, eBooks and articles that have that specific subject. By clicking that "subject" you now have limited your search to just that subject. To really narrow your results list, copy and paste that "subject" in the advanced search box, and select "subject" from the drop down box. In the next box, enter a specific keyword. The results will now be only those items that have that keyword found within all items with that one subject. Subject/AND searching will give you accurate and precise results.

An example of Subject/AND Searching: I want articles and books dealing with the parable of the Good Samarian. I go to the advance search of our catalog and enter "Jesus parables" as keywords. From the results list I pick one of the books on parables and select it. From the right hand side, I see that there are subjects that would limit my search; I choose "Jesus Christ -- Parables." I then copy and paste that link back in the advanced search box and choose "subject" from the dropdown box. In the next box I choose "Samaritan" as a Keyword search. The results will now only include books, ebooks and articles the have the Subject of "Jesus Christ -- Parables." AND the Keyword Samaritan. This will exclude any legal documents dealing "Good Samaritan laws" or Bible references to the origins of the Samaritan people.

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