ART 260: The Photograph: Search Well

Fall 2020. Professor Barbara McNulty.

How to Search Effectively

  • Boil your topic down to the most important words.  Ignore superfluous words like in, the, of, with, against, affect, impact.  Begin with a keyword search--Select a Field (optional). 
  • Put each "different piece" of your topic in a separate search box, if available.  Using the topic of the impact of Lewis Hine's photographs on social or labor reform as an example below, note how each different piece of the topic is entered on a separate line.  Leave the AND off to the left as it is.  Synonyms for the pieces are connected by OR--and kept on the same line--as seen below...

Screen shot of a search in Academic Search Premier

 

  • Too many results?  Focus your search by searching for your keywords in the ABSTRACT field or the TITLE field.  Click on the All - Smart Search pull down bar to select the abstract or title field.  Or...add another concept--perhaps, in this case, look at how his photographs specifically impacted child labor.
  • Too few results?  Think of synonyms.  Add synonyms to your search--using OR--and keep your synonyms all on the same line
  • Increase your results by removing the least important "piece" of your search while still retaining the "essence" of your search.
  • Still no results?  Broaden your search slightly.  Still no luck?  Try a different journal article database.
  • When reviewing your results, look for relevant "subject" or "descriptor" words.  Find subject terms either on the results page, or at the end of individual records.  Write down relevant subject terms that you find.  
  • Go back to the search screen and using the subject terms you discovered, search your subject terms in the subject or descriptor field.  Subject terms are gold threads--they will almost always lead you to the most relevant results.
  • Be sure to take advantage of boolean operators, exact phrase searching, and field searches.  Find out how in the document below.
  • When you find an article you want, choose PDF full-text or HTML full-text links.  Or...use the    Picture of the full text button   link to find full-text.
  • If the Looking for Full-Text link fails, use the Request from LVC Tipasa option to receive a copy of the article or book from another library.

Search Well

Although the topic's unrelated to yours, the search strategies/concepts are extremely useful.  Guaranteed to make you laugh and teach you valuable search skills.