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HST299: African Environmental History: Search Tips/Citing

Spring 2012, S. Hardin

Help With Citation

Select a standard citation style and document sources correctly and consistently.

test 2

ccccccccc

Search Tips

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.

STEP 1
Write down as much information about your topic as possible. (You can use encyclopedias and other reference books to help gather background information). 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 more about the morphology, physical
characteristics of cotton, and about this plant in general.

STEP 2
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: cotton, morphology, physical characteristics

STEP 3
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 focussing your search

cotton
gossypium
gossypium hirsutum

morpholog*
characteristic*
anatomy

 

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:

(cotton OR gossypium) AND (morpholog* OR anatomy)

Download this worksheet (with bonus search tips!) to help you organize your search strategy.

Need Help?


Contact Rocco Piccinino, x2951, rpiccini@email.smith.edu with your questions

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