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HIST 210: Research Methods: Advanced Searching

Guide for HIST 210

Boolean Search

Boolean Search Terms
AND  - Results will contain both words [anywhere, not always next to eachother].
OR - Results will contain at least one word. Example: Britain or "United Kingdom".
Quotation Marks - Search for phrase. A search for "New Jersey" is not the same as a search for New Jersey.
Parentheses - Like in math, it searches here first. Example: Salary and (Teacher or Educator).
Star / Asterisk - Use to capture variations of the same word. Example: Wom* will include "women," "woman," "womens," "womanhood" etc. WARNING: Be mindful that you can get unintended results. "wom*" will also turn up search results for "wombs," "womanizers," and "wombats."

Common Words - Avoid these words. Examples: That, which, the, a, an.
AND NOT - Omits from search. Example: Kings and medieval and not France
NEAR - Will find the two search terms within 16 terms of one another. Example: Medieval and (King near England).

Searching with Boolean
Searching a catalog can be tricky, so we use Boolean Search Logic. 
Steps to using Boolean

1) Break your idea into nouns. "What was Thomas Jefferson's views on the French Revolution?"
The three key nouns are 1) Thomas Jefferson 2) views/opinions 3) French Revolution.

2) Rephrase it in boolean. Focus on tangible nouns first. "Thomas Jefferson" and "French Revolution". Start with an "anywhere" keyword search.

3) Narrow search results by adding to the search:  
"Thomas Jefferson" and "French Revolution" and (opinions or views)

4) Narrow search with Title searches. A book about Jefferson and the French Revolution will probably have those in the title! If you are still getting too many search results, try searching for these  (and other) keywords in the "title" option.

5) Once you find a book on your topic, you can find even more using Subject or Term searches. The French Revolution is officially cataloged as "
France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799". Knowing this, you can find all our books on the topic. Jefferson also has an official catagory: "Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826"  If you search for both, you can find all book covering both topics! This works especially well in WorldCat.  

The above approach works with WorldCat, our Catalog, and article/database searches!

Questions? Need Help? Email reference@drew.edu

Drew University Library, http://www.drew.edu/library