- Use keyword when your term may be very new, very distinctive, or jargon, e.g. "instant messaging", "XML".
- Use a variety of keywords. There may be additional items on your topic that use different terms.
- Be aware that you may retrieve items not related to your topic (called false drops)
- When you cannot remember the exact title of an item, do a keyword search using the title words you remember.
Narrow or Broaden Your Search
Use AND between terms to narrow your search
example: television and violence and children
Use OR and/or truncate (*, ?) words to broaden your search
example: children or youth or adolescents
example: child* (will find child, children, etc.) Note: check online help for the correct truncation symbol
- Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
- Using truncation will broaden your search. For example,
bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.
- Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.
- Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example:
cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.
It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).
Finding Books in the Library Catalog
Use the Catalog search box located in the center of the library's homepage to search for books. To search for books on your topic, use the default Keyword search option and enter your search terms in the For box.
If you have a specific book or author in mind, before you enter your search terms in the For box, change the Search type from Keyword to:
- Title - to look for a specific book.
- Author - to look for books by a specific author.
To look for ebooks only, select Ebooks in the Limits field.
Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.
It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:
women or females
|Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.|
women and media
|And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.|
image not weight
|Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.|
Keyword Searching Examples
Variety of terms: If you are looking for items on the "movies", use additional keywords such as "film", "films", "cinema", or "motion pictures".
An example of retrieving results unrelated to your topic (false drops): using the keyword "cricket" will retrieve items about the sport as well as the insect.
An example of using keywords to find titles when you are unsure of the exact title:
Both CAGED and BIRD are in 6 titles.
There are 6 entries with CAGED & BIRD.
You searched for the WORDS: bird caged
Found 6 items:
- Caged bird medicine : selected topics / Charles V. Steiner (1981)
- I know why the caged bird sings (1969)
- Many voices. 8A-6B (sound recording) : for Adventures for re (1986)
- Maya Angelou / Miles Shapiro (1994)
- Poco / by Garry and Vesta Smith; illustrated by Fred Crump (1975)
- Voices in Black & White : writings on race in America from H (1993)
Some databases allow for wild cards to be embedded within a word to replace a single character. For instance, in InfoTrac, you can also use the question mark (?) within a word to replace a character. For example:
wom?n will retrieve woman or women
Using Google Scholar
You can find items the Oviatt Library owns using Google Scholar's capabilities. To activate the capabilities for your browser:
- Select Settings in the upper right, then Library links from the left menu.
- In the search box, type "CSUN" and select Find Library.
- Check the box next to "CSU, Northridge (SFX Find It)"
- Then select Save.
Select the SFX Find It at CSUN link (to the right of the article) or the SFX: Additional Options link (located below the article description) for access to online full text, Oviatt Library holdings information, and Interlibrary Loan.
- APA Quick Guide (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- APA Style Guide (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- Citing Archival Materials in APA
- Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (print version)