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Tips for Searching

Wildcard and Truncation

Wildcards and truncation are ways to improve searching. Wildcards are like wildcards in playing cards; they are replacements for things you don't know.

  #     This replaces a single character in the word, e.g. wom#n will return results of woman, women and womyn.

  ?     This replaces any number of characters in a term, e.g. savi?r will return savior and saviour [hint: this is important as many British English words are used in academics]

  *     This replaces the entire end of a word, e.g. bio* will return biology, biography and a whole bunch of bio- words.


Use the check boxes to limit what you are searching for. Use the limiters to limit the dates of publication so that you get the most current research. Use the "peer review" or "academic" boxes to limit the articles to only those that are academic/peer review/scholarly.

Searching Our Catalog

When you go to the WorldCat search engine, it is really helpful to do two things. First, click on the <Advanced Search> link under the basic search box. This will allow you to create better searches. Second, about half-way down, find and change the "Libraries" dropdown menu to "Life Pacific College". This will limit the searches to just what is accessible to you through Life Pacific.

How to Search

LibGuide Resource

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

Subject Searching

One of the most effecient 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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