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* MFA Creative Writing Resources: Search tips for databases, book catalogs and even Google

This guide Is a starting point for locating information and for researching literary topics.

Search tips

Some general search tips for databases, book catalogs and search engines such as Google:

  • Use AND to limit your search to results that include ALL of the keywords (Ex.- alice walker AND community)
  • Use OR to expand your search and indicate that you would like results with either term (Ex.-african american OR black OR race)
  • Use * as a wildcard.  Tacked on to a root word it retrieves variants. For example: teach* retrieves articles on teach, teacher, teacher, teaches, teaching, teachable, etc. (Note: OhioLINK databases use $ instead of *)
  • Use quote marks or parentheses to indicate that you want one or more words in the exact order in which you type them [Ex.-“great britain” or (great britain). You can put 2 phrases together  (great britain ) OR (united kingdom)
  • Try to think of other ways to think of your concept in order to increase your results (Ex.-Rather than looking for articles on “gothic” you can try: (gothic OR ghosts OR supernatural OR dreams)

Searching Library Catalogs: Subject Search or Keyword Search?


Which is better, a subject search or a keyword search? They are both useful.  It is usually easier to start with a keyword search.  Once you find an an item, you can check the record to see which subject terms are used.  Subject words are linked in the record so all you ned to do is click to find similar items.


  Keyword Search


 Uses natural language. Type a word or phrase.   With keyword you can search for simply "dominican republic"  or for (dominican republic OR haiti) or for (dominican republic OR haiti) AND language 


Subject Search

 Requires specific Library of Congress Subject Headings. The words have to be typed in the exact order used by Library of Congress.  Cannot use AND , OR or *.           


Relevant subject headings for environemental issues:    

 Energy policy -- United States. 

  Renewable energy sources -- United States. 

  Power resources -- Government policy -- United States. 

 Power resources. 

 Energy development. 

 Marine ecology.

 Agricultural ecology.  


  Agrobiodiversity conservation.