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Portuguese Language, Literature, and Culture: 3. Como Pesquisar

Step 3: How to Search

Many databases now allow for natural-language (Google-style) searching, but many of them don't. This page will teach you some basic and advanced techniques to help you efficiently target the information you want to find. Feel free to contact your Subject Librarian if you have questions or want additional tips!

Searching Techniques

Finding materials in library databases, catalogs, or online requires similar skills. Below, I’ll explain two approaches. I’ll also include some additional tips and tricks:

1.    Finding something you know the name of – (known search)
  • If you know what you’re looking for, one of the easiest ways to find it is through phrase searching. Use quotation marks around a proper name or phrase to find an exact match: “to be or not to be” or “Andalusian Dog.” Use this technique everywhere from Chinook to Google to library databases.
  • If you’re in a database or the catalog (OneSearch or Chinook), you can do a combined title and author search from the Advanced Search Screen. Adding as many fields (title, author, publication date) as you know will help you find your item faster. This is called field searching.

OneSearch Advanced Search Screen with Title and Author search fields in use

2.   Finding an unknown item – (unknown search)
  • Enter some keywords related to your topic in the search box. For example, Salvador Dali surrealism. You should get some results. In some databases or search engines, you may have to add the connector ‘AND’ in between your keywords: Salvador AND Dali AND Surrealism (or, turn the first two into a phrase: “Salvador Dali” AND surrealism). This is called Boolean searching. ‘OR’ and ‘NOT’ are other Boolean connectors and operators, and usually work best when in capital letters. Here's what that looks like in an Advanced Search Screen:

OneSearch Advanced Search screen showing keywords in multiple search boxes connected with AND

  • If you’re not getting results, or you’re not getting the ones you want, try searching for some information in Google or Wikipedia to get different keywords to try. For example, Salvador Dali's experimental film. A natural-language search like that will produce results that will include information about his surrealist film “Un Chien Andalou” or “An Andalusian Dog” from 1929.
Tips & Tricks
  • Even Google has some advanced search features, including Boolean operators
  • The library catalog, Chinook, and OneSearch have lots of options both on the Advanced Search screen, and on the filters that you can use to narrow your search after the fact
  • Many databases (EBSCO, ProQuest, JSTOR, etc.) will let you use a wildcard symbol. The symbol * can be added onto the root of a word, comput* to help you locate all variations of that word: computer, computers, computing, computational… Each database may have its own symbols(# or ?), so be sure to look for a Help Menu or Search Tips
  • When in doubt, you can always contact your Subject Librarian

Using Catalogs at CU University Libraries

Finding ALTEC materials through University Libraries

Research Process: Choosing a Search Tool

Where you search for books is not always the same as where you search for articles. Information can be found in many places using many different search tools like online search engines, library subscription databases, or library catalogs. How do you choose which search tool to use? 

Use the link below to find suggestions based on your major or area of interest, or by type of information:

Broadening and Narrowing Searches

Brainstorming keywords can save you time in the end. When you’re just starting a research project, it’s hard to predict the best terms to use. This is why you will have to try multiple searches. Through this process, you will learn what are the best terms to use.

Now let’s combine your terms into a search statement! You will combine your terms using Boolean Operators: “AND,” “OR,” and “NOT.” 

AND, OR, and NOT Venn diagram

Image from School District of Onalaska https://sites.google.com/a/onalaskaschools.com/ tech/boolean-search-tools

Narrow

Adding an "AND" between search terms will help you narrow your search. For example, if I combine the terms, “minority students” AND “student organizations” AND participation, in an article database, I will only find articles that contain all of these terms and phrases in them.

NOT” also narrows your search by excluding terms. It can be helpful for disambiguation purposes. For example, if I were in an astronomy class, and I was studying Pluto, I might search for “Pluto NOT Disney” to eliminate results about the cartoon dog.

Broaden

OR,” on the other hand, broadens your search. If I search for, “Black Student Union” OR “Student organizations” OR “extra-curricular activities” OR “student clubs” you will find articles that have at least one of these terms in it.

LC Book Classification

A

General Works

B

Philosophy, Psychology, Religion

C

Auxiliary Sciences of History

D

World History

E

History of the Americas

F

History of the Americas

G

Geography, Anthropology, Recreation

H

Social Sciences

J

Political Science

K

Law

L

Education

M

Music

N

Fine Arts

P

Language and Literature

Q

Science

R

Medicine

S

Agriculture

T

Technology

U

Military Science

V

Naval Science

Z

Bibliography, Library Science