CMAT 297 Tutorial Table of
Find It Button/ILL
Citing Your Work
Before you just
start willy-nilly searching our catalog or databases for books
and articles, it might be a good idea to sit down and think
about your topic and what search terms would be describe it.
Far too often I have students tell me they can't find anything
on their topic, only for me to discover that their search
strategies have been lacking. Please read my advice
below before you start your search!
It's very important to remember that our catalog and databases
do not search like Google!
It will not work to type in a long phrase with lots of articles
Here are some helpful keyword hints:
Identify simple one or two-word concepts in your topic.
Example Topic: How are race relations impacted by
rap or hip hop music?
Simple concepts: race, relations, rap, hip hop, music
Search your simple concepts with the word AND. Example:
Race AND rap music, race
AND hip hop. Most of our databases have three
search boxes available from the
Advanced Search screens. Put each
concept on a line and the default search
operation is "AND" meaning the search will
find both sets of terms.
Here is a
picture if you're one of those visual
learners. (It's okay :) I am too!)
Think of synonyms for your concepts. Example: Instead of
race relations, you might try
racism, minorities, African Americans, social
Try lots of different combinations of your search terms!
You are unlikely to find exactly
what you want just by doing one search!
Ask me for help if you get
Why would you
want to do a subject search? Well, let's say you were
interested in finding all the books in the library about cats.
You might find books about cats under "Cats," "Kittens,"
Felines," or a variety of other keywords. When you search by
subject, then all of the synonyms are accounted for, so "Cats"
as a subject would include all the books about "Kittens" and
"Felines" as well. So
subjects can help you do a comprehensive search on a topic by
accounting for synonyms.
Subjects can also serve to narrow your search.
A keyword search of "cats" would retrieve all the books that
just have a few pages about cats, whereas a search of the
subject "Cats" would retrieve books where the main focus were
those cute, furry creatures! This
from MIT might do a better job of explaining it than I did!
on, get creative! You can combine subjects or subjects and
Remember, joining terms with "OR" will get you "MORE" results
and joining terms with "AND" will narrow your results.
Savvy researchers try lots of different combinations of terms
and discover what yields the best results. Happy searching!
This tutorial was created by the liaison
Krista Knapp. Please let me know if you have
questions or comments. (updated 5/2010)