In Composition I (ENGL 101), you learned about several search strategies that work better with databases such as the Library Catalog and Academic Search Complete. You can review and expand on much of that information in the Basic Strategies for Searching Box on this page. As you become more experienced at research, your needs become more specific, meaning you need to increase your knowledge of how resources work. The Records! video shows how databases are different than the World Wide Web, while other boxes explore how to find disciplinary perspectives and using Google Scholar.
What do your search terms match up against in a keyword search? Why is searching the library catalog or an article database different than searching Google?
Disciplinary perspectives are closely related to the scholarly literature. Disciplines are branches of learning and are distinct, though related, to subjects. Hip-hop as a topic, for example, can be approached through the disciplines of music, literature, psychology, sociology, etc. This page contains some strategies for finding disciplinary perspectives on your topic.
Here are some strategies for finding discipline-related information in books and media.
When using a multidisciplinary database such as Academic OneFile or Academic Search Complete, bear the following in mind:
Some full-text journal collections, such as JSTOR, Project MUSE, and Science Direct allow browsing and searching by discipline. This may be a good next step if you don't find what you need in a multidisciplinary database.
Three subject databases group a number of disciplines into broad fields: Humanities Full Text, Social Sciences Full Text, and General Science Full Text. Like the multidisciplinary databases, these contain a mix of articles from scholarly journals, trade publications, newspapers and magazines.
Other databases are selective collections of materials--reference works, articles from scholarly journals, newspapers,and magazines, multimedia sources, and websites that explore a particular subject area or type of information. These include Biography In Context, US History In Context, and the Literature Resource Center. The sources may draw from a number of disciplines, so use the same strategies you would for a multidisciplinary database.
The big scholarly disciplinary databases (such as MLA Bibliography, PsycINFO, CINAHL and the like) will probably be less useful to you at this stage because they are geared to professionals in the field. While they may contain some useful material, much will be highly specialized and full of disciplinary jargon. In general, these databases are less likely to have full-text articles, though nearly all have abstracts. Nonetheless, it may sometimes be useful to know about them. Go to the Databases Page and select Subject to see a list of databases useful for a particular subject.
Look at the Article Databases tab to access recommended databases for your Composition II assignments.
**DISCLAIMER** Databases and search engines vary and may use portions of Boolean Searching. This information sheet is general tips & tricks and is meant to help in general use. Check the specific database or search engine (use the help screen) to see the operators it uses.
Boolean logic takes its name from British mathematician George Boole (1815-1864), who wrote about a system of logic designed to produce better search results by formulating precise queries. He called it the "calculus of thought." From his writings, we have derived Boolean logic and its operators: AND, OR, and NOT, which we use to link words and phrases for more precise queries.
narrows the search by combining words – the computer looks for all results that have both words connected byAND. This is helpful when searching for a broad topic that you want only a piece of such as EducationAND Preschool. This will give you only "preschool education." Sometimes the AND command is represented by asign
The use of AND
AND is used to tell the computer that your search results must have BOTH (or all) of the search words. AND has the effect of narrowing your results shrinking and focusing your topic. It is often (but not always) a default in Library Database such as Academic Search Complete, and is added behind the scenes in many search engines like Google.
For example: Searching Crime you would get 212,400 results while searching Poverty gets 61,500 results But Crime AND Poverty gets 2020 results the results are only about crimes that are related to poverty.
The use of NOT
NOT is used to tell the computer that you do NOT want a search term in your results; that is, it excludes results. NOT can be used to reduce the scope of a topic by removing or ignoring elements of a topic, such as a group (School NOT College) or an implied topic. It can also help clarify your topic (New York NOT New York City).
For example: Doing research on Dementia but you do not want to include the topic of Alzheimer’s you would search Dementia NOT Alzheimer’s to receive all of the information regarding Dementia that is NOT related to Alzheimer’s.
*NOT is a very powerful operator that should be used with caution.
The use of OR
OR is used to tell the computer that your results can have either (or all) of your search words. Your documents will have one OR the other OR all of your search words. This is used to connect related or synonymous terms and is very helpful in searching ideas that can be described in different terms. OR and a thesaurus can help you find more information about your topic. OR has the effect of expanding your results by adding more synonyms to your search your results will be increased.
When needing to do more advanced searching there are a few more tricks that can help you create more effective search strings. The use of tools such as Exact Phrase (or the use of quotation marks), Wild Card and Truncation symbols, effective use of Nesting and the use of Proximity Operators are all more advanced searching tools that can assist you in creating successful search strings. For the most part web search engines like Google do not respond to the use of these more advanced searching techniques but they can be useful in the Library Databases.
**DISCLAIMER** Databases and search engines vary and may use portions of Advanced Searching. This information is general tips & tricks and is meant to help in general use. Check the specific database or search engine (use the help screen) to see the operators it uses.
Quotation Marks or Phrases in Quotes AKA Exact Phrase
Using "quotation marks" to enclose your search terms will force the computer to find your search string EXACTLY as you have it creating what is know as an Exact Phrase search. Unlike using AND where your search results will include both words ANYWHERE in the results using quotation marks is designed to find your search words as an exact phrase in the order you have typed it.
Example: “Microsoft Office” will only find results where Microsoft is followed directly by Office so it will not find an article with “in my office I use Microsoft” nor will it find “Office suite by Microsoft”.
Google excludes common words in English and in other languages it calls these stop words. Words such as the, I, “la” (which means “the” in Spanish) and “de” (which means “of” in French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese). When Google ignores a term critical to your search, e.g., LA (common abbreviation for Los Angeles), enclose the term in quotes.
Computers usually perform AND and NOT searches first, then the OR searches but like in a math equation you can force the computer to perform the OR search first with Nesting. Nesting uses parenthesis () to encase the OR search string forcing the computer to complete the OR search first then move on to the AND or NOT search.
(Georgia OR South Carolina) AND "Teaching Shortage"
SO it first creates a large pool with the OR search then limits down the results with the AND or NOT search. The computer first searches for everything that has either Georgia OR South Carolina in it and then from that pool of results it finds items related to Teaching Shortages.
With this search people call electronic mail by several terms combining them in an OR search encased in parenthesis creates a pool of results that include all of the variations of terms for electronic mail and then it limits that pool to only those results that ALSO talk about security.
Proximity (aka positional) Operators are not really part of Boolean Logic, but like Boolean they help formulate search statements. Not all search engines or databases accept Proximity Operators so make sure to read the help screen for more advanced help. N# (near) and W# (within) are Proximity Operators that will connect words together similar to using the “quotation marks”. Using N# or W# followed by a number tells the computer you want the two search words to be found within a certain number of words of each other.
Within or W# searches for your two keywords in the order of your search string with a maximum number of words between them.
Example: repressed W8 memory will find articles that have the word repressed first with up to eight words apart from the word memory. Key here is that repressed is BEFORE memory.
Near or N# searches for your two keywords regardless of the order in which they appear and are separated but a maximum of words apart.
Example: tax N5 codes will find articles that have the words tax and codes a maximum of five words apart no matter the order in which they appear.
ADJ (or adjacent to) is a way to link words into phrases like quotation marks, it tells the computer that the keywords must be found next to one another but unlike quotation marks the words can appear in either order. This can be helpful if you are unsure if an author is listed first name then last or the other way around.
Example: Ernest ADJ Hemingway will find both Ernest Hemingway and Hemingway, Ernest.
Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) is a web search engine that searches specifically for scholarly literature and academic resources from publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar returns not only scholarly journal articles but also research reports, dissertations and theses, preprints, technical reports, patents, working papers, books, court opinions as well as things such as power point presentations, web pages and many other document types it deems scholarly using a built in algorithm.
Google Scholar is NOT Google, while Google searches the entire public Web, Google Scholar searches a smaller portion of the Web, similar to searching in the Library's catalog and databases. There is a more scholarly, authoritative focus with Google Scholar distinguishing it from Google. Google scholar is like a federated search allowing you to search in many places at once. Remember it is not exactly the same as a Library Database, many articles may have links to the Library Databases (if your library is linked in your Google Scholar settings) but it will NOT be all of the same materials. Think of it as a starting place for more precise searching, more search features, and more content use the Library's Databases.
Google Scholar includes many citations that link directly to publishers' web sites of which most will charge a fee for full access. However, the USC Upstate Library subscribes to many of these publications offering you access without paying the publisher (we already have paid). In order for Google Scholar to link to these articles in our paid databases you must make sure that the Library links has USC Upstate’s library information.
Altho the above video was created by Eastern Michigan University it covers the best parts of Google Scholar.