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LAW 807A-001: Legal Anthropology

Dr. Deepa Das Acevedo, Fall 2023

Search Tools and Approaches

Advanced Searches

By using a few simple tools, you will be able to conduct searches that produce more targeted results. Depending on the particular resource (database, website, catalog, etc.) you are using, there may be a number of advanced search tools that you can use to make your searches more effective.

Boolean Operators

By using terms like AND, OR, and NOT, you will be able to get results that are likelier to meet your needs as a researcher.

  • Searching for "child AND poverty" will retrieve results at the intersection of those two terms, meaning the results include both terms.
  • Searching for "tenant OR lessee" will retrieve a broader range of results because you are using terms that may be used to refer to the same thing or a similar thing.
  • Searching for "union NOT marriage" will exclude results that are not relevant for your search.


Limiters are often located on the left side of the results page, or look in the database's Help menu to discover the limit functions it offers. Limiters offer ways to narrow a set of results you have retrieved. If, after you retrieve too many results from an initial search that are not narrowly targeted given the topic you are researching, you may be able narrow the set of results using limiters. Limiters available to you may include: resource type, language, author/creator, publication date, genre, and more. 

Keywords and Search Terms

Try different keywords and search terms using different databases and catalogs. Every database is different so some keywords and search terms work for one database but not for another.

  • Include synonyms and plural/singular forms of keywords.
  • Separate synonyms by OR.
  • Separate the synonyms from the rest of the words by using parentheses.
  • Use truncation symbols (or wildcard symbols) to include variations of your search terms (e.g. scien$ or scien* will search for sciences, scientific, scientifically, etc.).
  • Keep a record of which search terms worked and in which databases. This can keep you from repeating your steps.