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Choosing the most effective terms for your search is the key to success. You are working in a multilingual environment at the university level. This 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 Tomás Rivera, I might want to consider the theme of migrant farm workers. I would start my list with:
- the title of one of his works (...y no se lo tragó la tierra or ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him)
- the author (Tomás Rivera)
- variations of term about migrants and/or farm workers (migrant, migrante, farm worker or agricultural worker, trabajador agrícolo, 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.
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 "UGA Access" 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 "UGA Access" 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.
- Migrant* 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!
Contracting searches, or how to get LESS:
- Adding terms to your 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 such as dates, etc.)
For a visual representation of these concepts, see the "Boolean searching" section of Research Guide.