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AFRICAN 201: Introduction to African Literature (Spring 2021) : Database Search Strategies

Searching Within Databases

This tutorial shows you how to search for articles in article databases.  It shows you how to use AND to combine terms, limit to articles from scholarly journals or by date of publication, use subject headings and abstract to find keywords, find full text of articles, and use tools to generate or export citations. 

Database Search Strategies

This tutorial shows you how to use database search strategies such as AND, OR, quotation marks, and truncation.

Search Tips

  • Identify the key concepts of your topic that you can use as keywords or search terms
  • Keywords or search terms will usually be nouns or noun phrases
  • Think of synonyms or alternate words for expressing your key concepts or search terms
  • Use AND to combine different words to find all those words, in any order - fewer search results  
    • postcolonialism AND literature
  • Use OR to combine similar words or synonyms or variations - more search results
    • authors OR writers
  • Use quotation marks ( " ") to search words as a phrase - fewer search results
    • "African literature" 
  • Use an asterisk ( * ) to find varied endings of words and singular and plural forms - more search results
    • feminis* finds feminist, feminists, feminism
  • Look at Subject Terms to find additional keywords and use them to find relevant and specific results.
  • Look for an option to limit to by source type on the left side of search results in most databases - fewer search results