It is important to thoroughly evaluate where you are getting your information, whether that be a book, research article, website, news story, or any other source. This process allows you to understand what is behind the information being presented so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to accept or use the materials. These are the things to be looking for:
A major source of frustration when trying to find resources is that you either get too many options, making it difficult to sort through them all to find what you need, or you don't find nearly enough about the topic you're interested in. Below, we have listed some tips and tricks designed to help you either expand or narrow your search results down.
Exact Words or Phrases
Put exact words and/or phrases you want in quotes.
Example: Searching for "biological anthropology" will return results that specifically use that phrase, whereas searching for biological anthropology will return results containing either or both of those terms and those containing the exact phrase.
Using OR, AND, NOT and/or parentheses to combine or exclude keywords in your search
Use OR if there is more than one term that may be applicable and you want results for either of them
Example: "biological anthropology" OR "physical anthropology" will return results that contain either of these phrases
Use AND to combine terms that you want to search; the results will include items with both terms
Example: "biological anthropology" AND forensics will return results that contain both biological anthropology and forensics; it will exclude any that do not mention both
NOT (or -)
Using NOT or a minus sign before the word(s) you don't want will tell the search function to look for results with the first word but will exclude any that contain the second one.
Example: "biological anthropology" NOT forensics will return results for biological anthropology and will exclude any that mention forensics
Use parentheses to separate search term strings; similarly to how math problems are done, everything within the parentheses is separated from the rest of the terms.
Example: ("biological anthropology" OR "physical anthropology") AND forensics will search for biological anthropology and forensics as well as physical anthropology and forensics
Number or Date Ranges
Number and date ranges can also be specified by putting two periods (..) between the numbers (including their unit of measure, if relevant), such as $150.00..$300.00 to return results showing those dollar ranges or 2001..2021 for results spanning those years.
If you are looking for information about a keyword that may have alternate or multiple suffixes (for example: act, active, activate, activation), you can search for all of the options by adding what is called a wildcard symbol (? or *). If you search for act? or act*, it will return results for act, active, activate, activation, etc. If one option doesn't work, try the other; Google recognizes both, but not all search engines do. This technique can definitely be helpful, but be aware it may produce too many results.
Bibliography, Reference, and Works Cited Pages
Once you have found a scholarly article or book about your topic, check the list of sources that the author has used in their work. There may be articles or sources that you can use in your own research; you may also see trends in who is publishing prominently/frequently in a particular field, you can search for the author(s) to see if perhaps there are other articles they have written.
Subject or Keyword Listings
If you look at the subject listings for a book or article, you will see how the resource has been officially identified. You can click on these subject headings or use them as search terms to find other resources that focus on the same subject matter.
After clicking on a title in the catalog, you will see the subjects listed.
In listings from the main catalog, subjects can be found here:
In the EBSCO databases, the subject listings can be found here: