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Classics and Ancient History: finding and using library resources for assignments: 3. How do I search effectively?

Online tutorial introducing you to the skills and techniques needed for effective library research

 
 
For effective online searching you need to invest time up front to develop a search strategy using a range of search techniques.

Activity

Use this online tutorial to help you understand the importance of evaluating the quality of the information sources you use in your academic work.

Keywords

Before you start searching, spend some time defining your research topic. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to find out? What search terms or keywords will find this information?

Use whatever technique works best for you - e.g. brainstorming, words lists or mind maps etc. can help you think around your topic and identify all possible search concepts and terms. 

Take a look at the short video to help you begin:

For more guidance, see the Search Techniques guide.

 
It is possible to use a number of different keywords in a single search, by using operators.
 

The three most commonly used operators are ANDORNOT.  These are known as Boolean operators. They can be used to broaden or narrow a search and to exclude unwanted concepts.

Watch the video to find out how to use these operators.

 

For more guidance, see the Search techniques guide.

Truncation is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.

To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol at the end.

The database will return results that include any ending of that root word.

The asterisk * symbol is most commonly used for truncation. However, check out the help screens as  !, ?, or # may also be used.

For example:

child* will find child, childrenchildlikechildhood etc.

Use it with care to avoid finding too many alternatives.


Wildcards are similar to truncation but they are used to substitute for a single letter or no letter in a word.

They are useful for irregular plurals and for British/American English spellings.

They broaden your search by including variant word spellings.

The question mark symbol is most commonly used. However, check out the help screens as  ! , *, or # may also be used. 

For example:

wom?n will find woman and women

‚ÄčFor more, see the Search tips guide.

Phrase searching is the most limiting technique as it is used to specify that your terms must appear next to each other, and in the order you specify.

Phrase searching is commonly achieved by surrounding your phrase with quotation marks.

Always check the Database Help screens, as some databases may use different symbols.

Phrase searching examples:

"Greek art"

"ancient world"

For more, see the Search tips guide.

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