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Searching the GIL Find Online Catalogs Topic Guide: Search Strategies

Keyword Searching

After choosing a topic you need to determine what it is about that topic that you would like to know or to discuss.  Set this up in the form of a statement or question.

When you have your statement/question ready, pick out the words relating to the main points – the “key” words.  For example:

                Topic:  "Females have brought a positive element to the military."

                Key words:  "female" and “positive” and "military.”

Next, come up with related words for each key word in case any of the original key words don’t seem to be working out for the search.  For example:

female military          positive           
woman (women) soldier benefit
girl army good

If any of your key ‘words’ are really a phrase, you’ll need to put quotation marks around them to tell the database that they must stay together in that arrangement.  For example:

                 “World War II”

Use Advanced Search and put one key word in each box to keep them as individual terms.

Change out your search terms (key words/phrases) - mix and match - until you get some results you're satisfied with.

Search Technique

Boolean Operators connect the search terms together in different ways.

Boolean logic defines logical relationships between terms in a search. The Boolean search operators are and, or and not. You can use these operators to create a very broad or very narrow search.

  • And combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. For example, travel and Europe finds articles that contain both travel and Europe.
  • Or combines search terms so that each search result contains at least one of the terms. For example, college or university finds results that contain either college or university.
  • Not excludes terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it. For example, television not cable finds results that contain television but not cable.

Note: When executing a search, And takes precedence over Or.

The following table illustrates the operation of Boolean terms:


Adding Limits/Filters

You can refine your results by adding limits or filters found under "Refine Results" on the left-hand side.


                    Click on "Show More" to see what other limits/filters you can use.  You'll get a box with some of the same limits, but also some different ones.


                    Lower in the list on the left you'll see "Subject."  This is a great way to focus in on your specific topic.  Be sure to click on "Show More"
                    after you open the "Subject" drop-down list.

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