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HLI 334: Chaucer: The Journey and the Dreams

A course guide designed to assist students in HLI 334.

Strategic Exploration

Use these tips to search better and find what you need more efficiently.

While different databases might have slight differences in their use of these terms, the goal is always the same: the more thorough your search string, the more relevant your search results will be, which saves you the time of looking through articles you know you don't want.

Boolean Operators

Terms that connect keywords to make a search more efficient.
Results that include both concept A and concept B

ex: [strawberry AND banana]

Results of concept A except those that include concept B

ex: [strawberry NOT banana]

Some databases (like Scopus) prefer AND NOT

The results of all of concept A and all of concept B

ex: [strawberry OR banana]

Search Modifiers

Other useful things to use when searching.
Word stems
Wildcard: ?

ex: wom?n = women, woman

Truncation: *
End of word

ex: [engine*] =
engine, engineer, engineering, engineered (etc.)

"Exact phrase"

Also known as "bound phrase". Brings back the term or title within the quotations.

ex: "strawberry smoothie"

(concept A OR concept B) AND concept C

Use parentheses to expand your search string and include more terms.

ex: (strawberry OR banana) AND smoothie

Let's Get Boolean

"Boolean" search terms (named for George Boole, 19th century English mathematician) refer to the usage of and, not, and or to unite keywords in search strings. The different terms return different results.

A AND B -- The narrowest: Results that only include both keywords A and B (apple AND orange)
A NOT B -- Results that include A except where B is also mentioned (apple NOT orange)
A OR B -- The broadest: Everything that mentions A and everything that mentions B (apple OR orange)

The more keywords you add into your string, the fewer - and better! - your results will be. You can use parentheses to add more focus to your search.


Keywords + Boolean Operators = Search Strings

Use the terms and methods described above to improve your search results.

Let's say you're looking for information on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the military and the ethical implications thereof. You have a few keywords here:

  • unmanned aerial vehicle(s)
  • military
  • ethics

You also have a number of synonyms or alternative forms of the words:

  • drone(s)
  • defense
  • ethical

Use asterisks to open up a word to single/plural, and use quotes to get the exact term:

("unmanned aerial vehicle*" OR drone*)
=40,620 results in OneSearch (libraries worldwide; 5,396 in Stevens)

Refine by adding the topic of military, opening that to the use of military or defense:

(("unmanned aerial vehicle*" OR drone) AND (militar* OR defense))
=8,832 results in OneSearch (libraries worldwide; 596 in Stevens)

Include the ethical issues of UAVs in defense:

((("unmanned aerial vehicle*" OR drone) AND (militar* OR defense)) AND ethic*)
=381 results (libraries worldwide; 46 in Stevens)

Remember: as in math, the placement of parentheses can change the outcome!

Library Catalog Search

Search the Library's Collection of Books: