Skip to main content

ENG 2 Sassenoff: Search Tips

This guide is compiled to assist you in completing your Research Argument paper on Arthur Miller's All My Sons

Search Terms Matter

It Matters  .  .  . 

The terms you enter in the Search Box matter!

They will impact the results you receive and ultimately the resources that will help you to write your research paper.

Keywords are important words and concepts drawn from your research question. One way to quickly identify keywords is to eliminate all words (other than nouns) from your research question.  Once you have identified all of the keywords from your research question then you will need to start thinking about amplifying your search terms by using synonyms for your keywords and integrating these terms into your searches.

Building Better Searches with Boolean

Boolean Searching Can Help You Build Better Searches

  1. Expand the search and increase the number of hits (OR = MORE)
  2. Narrow the search and decrease the number of hits (I NEED THIS AND THAT)
  3. Exclude unwanted results (I WANT THIS NOT THAT)

What Commands Are Used In A Boolean Search?

  1. OR
  2. AND
  3. NOT    

Wildcards and Truncation

Truncation and Wildcards Can Help You Build Better Searches

The most common wildcard and truncation symbols are: 

  1. Question mark (?) - Used in the middle of a word. Must replace one letter and only one letter.
    • Example: wom?n would return both woman and women.
      • Example: colo#r would return both color and colour.
  2. Asterisk (*) - Used at the end of a word (truncation). Will bring back various endings for a root word.
    • Example: comput* would return computer, compute, computerize, computing, computation, etc.

There are many other truncation and wildcard symbols. Each database is different and will sometimes use a symbol in a different way than another database. Be sure to check the advanced searching tips and help guides located in each individual database to learn which symbols you can use in that database.

Other Search Tops and Tricks

Other Search Tips and Tricks 

  1. Start with one keyword and build your search slowly.  This way you will be able to figure out which keyword did not work in your search.
  2. Remember sometimes you'll need to start over.
  3. If you are not finding the results you need, try these strategies:
  • Think of different keywords (Google your topic, go to a thesaurus, look at subject terms). 
  • Think of broader topics that include your topic and research those. 
  • Use quotation marks to "nest" your search term. This technique indicates that you are using a key phrase.
  • Example: If you are searching for information on climate change, put quotes around the phrase, "climate change", so the database will keep the words together.