SEARCH UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
Using subject terms to search for information on a topic can be very efficient, but is difficult to do if the correct vocabulary determined by the Library of Congress is not know. The basic subject heading for women's suffrage in the United States is Women Suffrage United States. Make sure to change the search type from from "Keyword" to "Subject."
Academic search engines employ Boolean Operators that researchers can use to their advantage. These operators are usually located in a drop down box after the fields where search terms are typed. These are the three operators
When two field are separated by AND, the engine will only return results that contain the search in both fields. This Makes the results more specific.
Example: womens suffrage AND United States
All results must contain both search terms.
When two field are separated by OR, the engine will return all results that contain one or the other. The results may have both, but do not have to have both. Using OR between search terms broadens the search.
Example: woman suffrage OR women's suffrage
"Woman suffrage" and "women's suffrage" will each bring back useful results on their own, but when separated by OR the researcher can see a broader range or results because the results can have either search term, but don't have to contain both.
When two search terms are separated by NOT, the search engine will take out all results that contain the second search term. This narrows the search results.
Example: woman suffrage NOT Canada
Any search results that contain the word "Canada" will be removed. This is useful if the researcher is getting a lot of results that are not useful.
When two or more words in the same field are contained within quotation marks, the search engine will only return results that have the words in that order and next to each other
Example: Woman Suffrage can bring back mixed results. For instance, a result might say something like "He was in favor of African American men's suffrage, he told the woman reporter." If "Woman Suffrage" is used instead, the results must contain the words in that order with no words in between.
Researchers may occasionally find it useful to search for many variations of a word. For example, "suffrage," "suffragette," and "suffragist." It is possible to use the OR operator to search for all three of these terms, but there is a simpler solutions. If "*" is put into a word, most academic databases and catalogs will search for variations of the word.
Example: "Suffrag*" will return results containing "suffrage," "suffragette," "suffragist", and any other variation that begins with "suffrag." Another example is "wom*" which will return results for "woman," "women," "woman's," "women's," and other variations.
Below is an example of what using these various tools look like.