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Political Science 350: Immigration and Citizenship

Video: Advanced Search Tips

Keywords & Subject Links

Keywords are the critical words used to describe your topic in the literature.  For example:  organic farming Japan.  Notice -- the less important words like:  an, in, the, of  are left out of the statement.  Every word you ask for has to be present in the item you're retreiving, so just use the words you really need.

Subject links are provided by the Library of Congress cataloging librarians to describe your topic consistently.  For example, you might be interested in organic farming in Japan but the most important work is titled, "One Straw Revolution"  which doesn't use any of the words you chose initially.

So, your best searching technique in library catalogs would be to:

  1. Search using keywords to find at least one item of interest
  2. Use the subject links at the bottom of the screen to find other items the Library of Congress librarians deemed to be about your topic even if the exact words weren't used in the title

When you use a huge catalog like World Cat, it's good to search using subject terms you identified in Bridge rather than by keyword.

Honing your Keywords

Shortening your keywords --  You can search words with a common root by "truncating" them with an *.

For example,

Comput*  will search compute, computer, computers, computerize, computing and so on.

It's always good to put a * symbol after a country name when you search.  For example,

Japan*  will bring up items using the terms  Japan, Japan's, Japanese

Keeping words in phrases together -- It's important to keep words in phrases together to keep them in context.  For example,

"sustainable agriculture" would bring up items on sustainable agriculture. 

If you didn't use the quotation marks you might end up with items about sustainable growth in conventional agriculture which is not what you are looking for.