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ENLS 5010: Death at the Party (Zumhagen-Yekplé)

Research guide for students in Prof. Zumhagen-Yekplé's course

Search Query Tips

  • Exact quote/phrase: Use this to return results with the exact search phrase. Examples: "mobile operating system", "renewable energy"   
  • Truncation: Searches for variations of the root word. Example: financ* searches for financing, financial, etc.
  • Wildcards: Substitute a symbol for one letter of a word to return results with variations on that word. Example: wom!n searches for woman or women.  
  • Connectors: Often called "Boolean operators," these search query connectors (and/or/not) help to expand or narrow your search. Join terms together with "and," expand the search with "or," and exclude irrelevant results from the search with "not." "Or" is helpful when you want to include synonyms in a search. Example query: bankruptcy OR insolvency.
  • Nesting: Nesting lets the searcher control the way the search terms are grouped. This method uses parentheses to nest search terms within another search string. This is especially helpful with synonyms. Example: (dogs OR puppies OR canine) AND (cats OR kittens OR feline)

If you're not sure whether you're using the best terminology for your topic, try doing a quick search with a keyword and check in the detailed records of your most promising results to see which subject terms (or "subject headings") are used in their description. Once you know how to find the preferred controlled vocabulary terms for your topic, you can write more effective search queries.

Detailed Records

The detailed record for each item in a search gives a wealth of information about the item's content. You can often see how relevant a source is without having to read through it during your search process. Instead, sign in to your library account and pin it to save for later. Or, use your preferred citation manager (Zotero, Mendeley) so you can access the item when you're ready to read it.


At the very bottom of the detailed record for some items, there may be buttons linking out to results lists that include items cited by an article as well as items that have cited the article since its publication. These are both great ways to find other scholars taking part in the same conversation about a given topic. If you don't see this function for an article, try looking it up in Google Scholar to find the citation trail.

Screenshot of buttons allowing users to link to items cited in an article and items citing that article after its publication


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