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Anthropolgy of Gender, Food and Culture: Searching

How to Refine Your Search Using Boolean Operators

Truncation and Wildcards

Wildcards stand for an undetermined letter.  There are two wildcard symbols ? and #.

  • ? stands in for a letter that must be there.  Searching for recogni?e will retrieve recognize and recognise.
  • # stands in for a letter than may or may not be there.  Searching for colo#r will retrieve color and colour.

Truncation searches for words with the same stem and it's symbol is *

  • Searching for standard* will retrieve standard, standards, standardization, standardizing, etc. 
    • When truncating, it is important to place the * in the right place. 
      • If it is too far towards the end of the word, you will not retrieve some relevant results:  standardiz* will retrieve standardization and standardizing, but not standard or standards.
      • If it is too far towards the front of the word, you will retrieve irrelevant results:  stand* will retrieve standard, standards, standardization, standardizing, etc, AND stand, standing, etc.

Alternate Search Terms

Using equivalent search terms may help you find better resources.  Sometimes there may be words or phrases that are used by those in the field.

For instance suppose I am looking for information on depression.  By doing some preresearch online (such as google or wikipedia), I find that depression is generally broken up into two types: major depressive disorder and persistive depressive disorder.  This will also allow me to further refine my search if I am actually interested in only one of the types (in addition to removing the possibility of results on the Great Depression).

Be sure to read your preresearch thoroughly!  A quick glance may have you searching for dysthymia, but just reading the first sentance better, you see that dysthymia is no longer a proper term, and while it may retrieve results, persistive depressive disorder will retrieve better results. 

Learn about your topic before you search

You will search more effectively if you know something about your topic.  To that end, do some research before you start doing your research. 

I mean google it.

Wait--did I just read what I think I did?

Did a librarian just recommend that I Google or Wiki my topic?????

Yes.  You can't cite Wikipedia, and you may not find good resources on Google, but you will have an easier time finding information on your topic when you understand at least the basics if your topic, and for that you can usually find information on Google and/or Wikipedia. 

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