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LRS 300: Liberal Studies Gateway Experience

This course guide is created for students taking Gateway LRS 300

Librarian

Jamie Johnson's picture
Jamie Johnson
Contact:
Oviatt Library 110C
jamie.johnson@csun.edu
(818)677-6059
Website

Search Strategy

Keywords VS Subject Searching

keyword cloud

Keywords

  • Your topic itself may prove to be the words that may up your search term(s). 
  • Keywords searches look for that search term(s) in the title, subject, author, summary or abstract fields.
  • Keywords will also be searched for repetition in the document.  Keywords found frequently or throughout an article may push that article higher in the search results.
  • Keywords matches to dot distinguish between context and purpose.  It may match the correct word but not in the 

Subject Searching 

  • A subject search will locate materials by Library of Congress Subject Headings, which is a controlled vocabulary or standard list of subject terms. The Oviatt Library assigns Library of Congress Subject Headings to all items listed in the online catalog.
  • The number of results may vary widely.  Some searches will retrieve hundreds of results but if you choose a nonexistent subject term while others get nothing.  
  • If you do not know the appropriate subject heading for your topic, conduct a keyword search first and look at the subject heading(s) for relevant items.  

Background

photograph of books

Image: Flickr Creative Commons by Pimthida 
 

Background: prior to starting your research you may need to find background information in order to provide context for your research topic.  Try the following resources:

Search Tips

Boolean Searches

  • AND: searches for all of the search terms.  Using *and* in between search terms will narrow your search.  For example
    • women and prohibition  
  • OR: searches for at least one of the search terms.  Using *or* in between search terms will broaden your search. For example: 
    • women or female 
    • prohibition or temperance 
  • NOT: excludes the search term immediately after the NOT operator.  Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. For example: 
    • alcohol not drugs 
  • Phrase searches
    • Please quotation marks (“ “) around the words that you want to be search together as a phrase. For example:
      • "Eighteenth Amendment" 
      • "Women's Christian Temperance Movement" 
  • Wildcard searches
    • The use of the asterisk (*) is a wildcard that most databases all you to use to search a root word and variable endings to broaden search results.  For example: 
      • latin* (retrieves "latin," "latins," "latino," "latinos," "latina," "latinas")

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