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ENG199: Methods of Literary Studies -- J. Kim: Search Tips

Fall 2018, J. Kim

The Deep Web

A vast majority of the web (90%!) cannot be accessed via search engines like Google. (2.26 minutes) From Mashable.

Mind Mapping Worksheet

Search Tips

Searching By Keywords:

Whether you are searching for books in the Five College Library Catalog, or searching for scholarly articles in a library database, it pays to be organized as you start your search. Break down searching into a three step process.


Write down as much information about your topic as possible. Answer the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you know? What don't you know?

Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.

EXAMPLE: I would like to learn about the research being done on Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and, in particular, the character Caliban and post-colonialism.

Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE:  Tempest, Caliban, post-colonialism


Now create a list of synonyms of your key concepts. Think broadly, think narrowly! This step is helping you expand your search by expressing your query in a variety of ways. If you get too many results, then you can work on focusing your search.









Add other term(s) to further narrow search



"post colonialism"

*=wildcard; will find variations at the end of a word.

""=quotes will search for exact term,


You will use the word lists you developed in Step 3 to create search strategies. Use "OR" between synonyms and "AND" between concepts. For instance:

(tempest) AND (caliban) AND (post colonial*)  

 Watch video (3 minutes):  Crafting a Savvy Search Strategy (UCLA Library)