Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

FREN 3020: Culture and Communication (Haddad): Searching Techniques & Tips

Search terms

Choosing the most effective terms for your search is the key to success. Remember that you may be 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. As you search in the resources available to you, you will find materials in multiple languages. There might not be a direct correspondence between the words in English and those in other languages. For example, if I were searching for materials about tourism in Senegal, I would probably list the following:

  • Senegal, Dakar, and other city or region names such as Matam; 
  • Tourism, tourisme, tourist, touristique, travel, voyage, etc.

There is not always a direct correspondence between the words in English and in French 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.

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, for example if you were searching for tourist attractions in Dakar:
    • Tourist* covers both the English and the French terms (Tourist, tourists, touristique, etc.). (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
Office Hours are by appointment - email me at:

Main Library, 6th floor, Collection Development suite