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SPAN 2550: Introducción a la literatura y cultura Latinx (McFadden): Searching Techniques & Tips

SPAN 2550 (McFadden) - Search terms

Choosing the most effective terms for your search is the key to success. Remember that you are working in a multilingual environment, which will influence which terms you choose and how you combine them. (See the box below for more about constructing your search.)

Once you have decided on a topic, start making a list of the words you think will best describe the subject. If I were looking for a critical essay about the works of Josefina López, I might want to consider the theme of racial identity. I would start my list with:

  • the title of one of her works (Real Women Have Curves)
  • the author (Josefina López)
  • variations of term about race and identity (race, raza, identity, identidad, etc.)

As you can see, there is not a direct correspondence between the words in English and in Spanish, yet you will find relevant materials in both of those languages, among others.

For more advice about terms, see the "Keywords vs. Subject" tab of the Database Search Tips guide.

SPAN 2550 (McFadden) - Expanding/Contracting Your Search

Now that you have a considered your topic and chosen some terms, it is time to choose and search in the appropriate database. See the "Library Resources" tab in this guide for suggestions. Keep in mind that some databases are indexing databases (they point to the source you need, often using the "Find It @ UGA" button, for example, HAPI), while others are full-text databases (for example, JSTOR).

Generally, the indexing databases will connect you to a full-text source if it is available to UGA. Full-text databases may have time-sensitive obstacles such as access limitations. Some sources in JSTOR, for example, are not available as full-text for 1-5 years after publication. However, the indexing databases will still provide the citation, and the "Find It @ UGA" button will often connect to a different database that provides online access. I highly recommend searching in the indexing databases before searching in strictly full-text databases.

Expanding searches, or how to get MORE:

  • Truncation using symbols (such as * or ?) will help you get more citations using one term.
    • Identi* covers both the English and the Spanish terms. (You may have to do your search several times to cover the various terms you have identified.)
  • Be wary of putting in TOO MANY terms in one search - you may end up with zero results!

For more advice about expanding searches , see the "Boolean operators" tab (the section on "Using OR") and the "Truncation" of the Database Search Tips guide.

Contracting searches, or how to get LESS:

  • Adding terms to you search will generally give you fewer results. (I recommend starting with only one or two terms to see how big the universe is before adding another term, or other limitation.)

For more advice about contracting searches , see the "Boolean operators" tab (the section on "Using AND") of the Database Search Tips guide.

Your Librarian

Laura Shedenhelm's picture
Laura Shedenhelm
Contact:
Office Hours are by appointment - email me at:
shedenhe@uga.edu

Main Library, 6th floor, Collection Development suite