LIS557: Searching Techniques


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Some basic searching techniques to help you use library catalogs and databases better.

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LIS557: Searching Techniques

  1. 1. Searching Techniques (using Boolean searching terms) Presented by Tim Senapatiratne, Ph.D. Reference Librarian
  2. 2. This presentation will cover some basic searching tips to help you more effectively use the keyword search function.2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 2
  3. 3. Basic tips:• Keywords that are too general will produce too many results• Keywords that are too specific may not produce enough results• Good keywords can be gleaned from syllabi, class lectures and other books and journals that you have read on your subject.2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 3
  4. 4. Improving your Chances: Think of related terms, synonyms and sometimes even opposites.If you are searching… Try searching…• Car • Automobile• Ecclesiastes (book of the • Qohelet (its other name) Bible) • Quran (alternate• Koran spelling) 2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 4
  5. 5. Boolean Searching Boolean who? Whats a Boolean? Is he really Mr. Boolean? No, he is George Boole (1815-1864)Image from 2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 5
  6. 6. Image from George Boole was a mathematician who developed advanced ideas about linguistic algebra. His "Boolean Terms" help us relate and differentiate important search terms There are 3 important Boolean terms: "AND" "OR" "NOT"2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 6
  7. 7. AND is a limiterAND requires that bothsearch terms are in the For example, searching forreturned results. Car AND Automobile would bring up only those results that have both the word Car and the word Automobile in them.Hint: Some databases(and WorldCat) assume“AND” betweenkeywords – you don’thave to type “AND”.2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 7
  8. 8. OR is a expanderOR expands results:either word searched For example, searching forwill return results. Ecclesiastes OR Qohelet would bring up results that have the word Ecclesiastes in them and results that have the wordHint: Some databases Qohelet in themrequire that youcapitalize both letters ofOR2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 8
  9. 9. NOT eliminatesNOT eliminating specificwords from your search For example, searching for Jaguar NOT animal would bring up only those results that have the word Jaguar in them, but not the word animal in them (so youSome databases could find things aboutsubstitute the minus the car).sign “-” for “NOT”2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 9
  10. 10. Other hints Using “ ” (quotation marks ) Sometimes using allows you to do a very parentheses can be helpful. specific phrase search. For example, searching For example: (car or “top ten songs of 1993” automobile) and Jaguar will will look for that phrase retrieve all records with the and not bring back songs word Jaguar and either the from 2003. word car or automobile.2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 10
  11. 11. Thank you for your attention Questions? You can also email questions to me at: timothy.senapatiratne@eagles.usm.edu2/25/2012 University of Southern Mississippi 11
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