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Anthropology 310: Language in Culture

Search Strategies

Check out this video to learn how to manipulate your search to get the resources you need.

Brainstorming Keywords

Before you begin your search, compile a list of potential keywords related to your topic. For example, on the topic of women's economic rights in ancient Athens, keywords might include:

  • women
  • females
  • gender
  • economics
  • land ownership
  • property
  • economic rights
  • Athens
  • ancient Greece

Using Boolean Operators

Keywords can be combined with other keywords using the AND operator to narrow your topic. For example:

  • women AND media
  • women AND farming
  • women AND marriage

Keywords can be combined with synonyms using OR to broaden your search. For example:

  • women OR females

Using Quotes

Quotation marks can be used to search phrases. For example:

  • "global studies"
  • "international relations"
  • "ancient Rome"

Putting these terms in quotes means that the words will be searched as a phrase rather than each word separately.


  • Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
  • Using truncation will broaden your search. For example, bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.
  • Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.
  • Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example: cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc. It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).

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