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What you need to know about constructing the most effective keyword search strategy:
Use keywords and or phrases that best describe what you're looking for; start specific then be more general depending on your results
The objective is to retrieve a small group of relevant records.
Anything can be a keyword - people, places, time periods, events, types of information (e.g., personal narrative), issues, and more can be keywords.
Try multiple keyword and or phrase searches.
Reference books (academic encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries) are good sources for effective keywords, and background/factual information.
Consider searching specific fields (e.g., title, subject ) to narrow or broaden results
Sample KEYWORD searches for sources (books, chapters, and articles) the Black Arts Movement and identity.
black arts movement (basic search)
black arts movement AND identity (advanced search)
black arts movement AND idenity AND baraka
african americans AND national characteristics (Advanced search)
race identity and african american* (Basic search)
American identity AND african americans (Advanced search)
Research Tips and Strategies
When keyword searching, use key words
that best describe your topic.The
objective is to get a small group of relevant records.People, places themes, characters, time
periods, events, types of information (i.e. ethnography) issues and more can be
key words.What words or phrases best
describe your topic?
Evaluate your search results.If you don’t see related materials in the top
10-20 items of your search results, reconstruct your search using alternative
keywords, synonyms, narrower terms, more terms, etc.The goal is to get a small group of relevant
Note the citation/source information (journal
title, volume #, issue #, and date) before leaving the database, even if
just to go to another window.The
citation is the most important information in the database record and is
required to locate the article text, online or in print.
Raid bibliographies.Books and articles have bibliographies and
references.Use them so you don’t have
to spend hours database searching.
library, like materials are shelved together.When looking for a particular book on the
shelf, also scope out what’s shelved next to it.Books and back issues of periodicals are
inter-filed on the shelves in call number order.
Consult a librarian. We work across the disciplines, will refer you if
necessary, and can help track down sources, explain library services, interpret
citations and find the most useful keywords. The Ask a Librarian (see box on left) service provides 24/7 access to a librarian.