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ENGL 300 Research Guide (Lutz): Home & Search Strategies

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Practice Boolean Search Strategies

Welcome!

Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting Dr. Mary Anne Lutz's ENGL 300 class! This tabbed guide will help connect you to the FSU Ort Library's resources and give you tips about how to use them.

This page begins with some search strategy tips. Below you find:

  • Developing a Search Strategy for the Research Databases or OneSearch
  • Boolean: Combining Keywords (video)

Developing a Search Strategy for the Research Databases or OneSearch

When searching the library research databases or the catalog, it's good to have a strategy. Unlike Google or Internet search engines, the databases and the catalog can't interpret natural language or strings of unconnected words. You should identify the key concepts in your thesis or research question and then brainstorm for a few alternative terms and synonyms that go along with them. Then you can connect and combine those terms in different ways using Boolean (see video in box below).

For example, what if you were researching the question:

How is gender depicted in "The Lesson"  by "Toni Cade Bambara"?

 

The key concepts are obviously the words I underlined!

 

 It's good to have a few synonyms and related terms for your key concepts. They may also be helpful in your search!

gender: "The Lesson" Toni Cade Bambara  
gender roles, sexuality, sex roles, men, women, etc. short stories, fiction, etc. Bambara, women writers, African-American writers, etc.


Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

 gender AND "The Lesson" AND Bambara

Or a more advanced search statement, throwing in some related terms and synonyms:

(gender OR "sex roles") AND "The Lesson" AND Bambara

 

Find out why I combined terms with AND and OR in the video below (capitalization and bold type just for emphasis)!

Boolean: Combining Keywords

This YouTube video from the University of Auckland, New Zealand demonstrates how to combine search keywords using the Boolean AND, OR, and NOT. It also shows you how to apply Boolean searching in a variety of database and catalog search screens.

Subject Guide

Sean Henry's picture
Sean Henry
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Lewis J. Ort Library
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