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ENGL 3092 - Transatlantic Literature (Mabee)

What Are Search Strategies?

Research is an iterative process that requires trial and error. Searching strategically helps you find relevant information and keep track of what works. This page will provide you with suggestions and tools for refining your search.

Tips

  1. Use books in the reference collection to get started.
  2. Write down search terms you plan to use.
  3. Note search terms that do not get you any results.
  4. Thoughtfully, play around with the Search Fields. i.e. What if you search for "Criticism" as a Subject instead of a Keyword?
  5. Look at the Subjects or Subject Headings section to find more search terms or to explore a subject you had not considered.
  6. Look at and use the citations at the end of relevant articles/books to follow the research trail of the writer. It could be useful for your research too.
  7. Ask a librarian!

Strategy Suggestions

Allen Ginsberg has been used for this example but you can swap "Ginsberg" for the last name of the author you are researching. Keep all of the other terms. This search will look for information with the word "poetry" in the subject. This tells the database to only bring back information that will be relevant for this assignment.

Pay attention to the subjects section in the item's record page. This tells you a lot about the book/article and it also gives you search terms to add to your search term bank. If you click on any of these links in the record page, it will show you all the books/articles that have been "tagged" the same way.

Specialized Search Fields

In databases such as MLA International Bibliography and Literature Resource Center, you can search precisely for articles about an author and a work by that author. Databases do not always use the same words to describe the same search field. MLA International Bibliography uses SA: Primary Subject Author to search for a specific author whereas Literature Resource Center uses Person By or About to describe the same thing. Be aware of the differences.