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ENGL 1200: Writing II (Hosley): Search Tips & Resources

Boolean Searching

Boolean datatypes have only two possible values: True or False. All computer operations are based on this premise. Boolean Searching (as we use it in the library)  helps translate English commands into these computer values.  There are three main Boolean search terms that our used in our databases:

  • AND - Returns only results that have both terms (adolescents AND depression)
  • OR - Returns results that have either term (girls OR women)
  • NOT - Will not show results with the term (NOT review)

Not exactly Boolean but...

Putting your terms in quotation marks will return results with that exact phrase ("digital copyright").

Developing Keywords

Typing in a whole sentence for a search ususally doesn't get good results because the database is trying to match the whole thing - it's best to try to pull the main ideas out of what you are trying to search for - keywords.

All databases (including Google) use a keyword search to return results. (Library databases are also organized by Subject, but start with keywords.)

This online tool can help you create useful keywords from your topic sentence.

These one-page guides will also help you develop search keywords that will get results:

    In the Databases & Library Catalog

    The type of information you are looking for can determine the resources you want to use as much as your topic can, sometimes more.

    • Biographical information - start off in the Library Catalog for books and eBooks, including the Reference Collection
    • Critiques and reviews about an author or a specific work -start off in literary based databases
    • Overviews of an author's body of work - start off in the Library Catalog for books and eBooks, including the Reference Collection
    • Other types of information such as media interviews with an author, articles focusing on a more indepth analysis (such as an author's body of work, the author's work in context of the genre, a specific work, a specific theme, etc.), and more can be found in a general academic and literary based databases


    Use the Advanced Search function. In most databases this will enable you to use limits to select the type of resource (such as reviews) and do a people or name search.

    Library Catalog:

    Dictionary of Literary Biography - This is a large, multi volume set covering authors from different time periods, countries, genres, etc. Search for this title in combination with another term such as 20th century or 21st century writers, American, etc.

    Try searching using your author's name in combination with the biography, biographical, criticisms, reviews to find books in the Reference or General Collection that are about your author or his works.


    ILLiad: Get Books from Another Library

    Find Books

    In the Gallucci-Cirio Library:


    Research appointments available!

    Don't overlook one of your best resources - your Gallucci-Cirio Librarians! Need help getting started, developing your search strategy, focusing your topic and selecting "keywords", deciding what type of resources you need as well as how to use them? The librarians are here to assist you whether you have a home work assignment or an indepth research project to complete.

    Ask a Librarian: Research Help Desk