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TH 4391: BFA Seminar - Theatre Design/Tech: Search Strategies

A course guide to library research resources for Prof. Cely's & Prof. Sousa-Wynn's students in TH 4391, the BFA Scenic Design Seminar Course.

Basic Search Strategies

These guidelines are basic search strategies that can be used in databases, catalogs, and on the web. Following them will avoid wasted time searching fruitlessly.

Search by keywords and small phrases.

Maximize your keyword searches with Boolean searching. What's Boolean? Learn the three little words that will save you mountains of time.

  • And
  • Or
  • Not

Use quotation marks to search for whole phrases. 

Use the database’s built in limiting features. Some databases have a filter for full-text or scholarly journals

Consider truncation. The symbol used is usually *. Typing in creat* will result in results containing: create, creating, creators, creation, creatures, etc. 

    Try using the database’s subject terms. Those are listed in the database’s thesaurus, or they may be listed near the article abstract.

    Start Your Research

    Start Your Research searches multiple library resources - not only many of our databases, ebooks, and streaming media, but also books, movies, music, etc., that we have in the Alkek library! It can be a great method to search a large amount of sources at once. 

    The new search platform does not search all of the databases we subscribe to and the original databases often have more search features, such as the ability to limit to methodology. 

    For more in-depth or complex research, you will likely want to go to the databases listed in your subject area.

    Use Special Database Features

    Personalize your Research Experience--Many databases have a registration/sign in feature that unlocks

    Save your place--Many databases offer permanent links to searches, or to citations for bookmarking and easy access. You can also often save your citations in a personal "folder" to keep for later.

    RSS for Success-- Many databases allow you to create RSS feeds for new content from journals or a certain search.

    Alert me!--You can set up email alerts with many databases so that when a new issue of a certain journal has been published, you will be notified by email, or also when new results for a search you have constructed in the past have been added to the database.

    Combination Searching--Many databases (especially EBSCO) have a feature that lets you search across multiple databases offerend by that vendor.  Another trick is to use Google Scholar.