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HIST 326: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Latin America: Home

Search Tips

Know which fields your search tool is searching - full text or metadata? 

  • Full text
    • What specific language will the source use to describe your topic?
      • Language? English, Spanish, Indigenous? 
      • Consult background and secondary sources for help brainstorming terms
      • Use the Google ngram viewer to get a sense of how common terms are in different time periods
      • Think beyonds words for concepts - look for specific people, events, and institutions related to your topic
  • Metadata (OBIS, image and video databases, etc.)
    • How do scholars/librarians describe your concept? 
    • Consult Library of Congress Subject Heading Lists, thesauruses, etc., to learn controlled vocabulary
    • Especially when looking for images, think creatively - how might race or gender be depicted? How would that image be described?  

Basic Database Search Techniques

Concept Explanation Example
Phrase search
(quotes required)
search for an exact phrase (most, but not all, databases use quotation marks) “death penalty”
“standardized test”
“reality TV”
Boolean logic (for keyword searching) use Boolean operators (AND, OR,
NOT) for more precise searching
See following examples
AND search for records that have all of the words (narrows the search)

race and poverty

drug use and educational attainment

OR search for records that have any of the words (broadens the search)

homosexual or gay or lesbian or queer

china or japan or korea

NOT exclude records that have the word (narrows the search) advertising not (TV or television)
Truncation search for a root word with any ending (most, but not all, databases use an asterisk *) adolescen* [finds adolescent, adolescents, adolescence]


Additional Database Techniques

Concept Definition Example
Complex Boolean Search place search words for the same
concept in the same search box
(or in parentheses)
(spous* or wife or wives or husband* or domestic partner*) and (abus* or batter* or violen*)
Proximity require words to appear within a certain distance of each other n (for “near”) = words can appear in any order w (for “within”) = words must appear in specified order poverty n4 mental health african w2 american* (n# and w# indicate the maximum number of intervening words) note: if no quotes or proximity connectors or are used, Ebsco defaults to w5
Field qualification (field limiting) require words to appear in a certain field in the database record (easy way: use dropdown menus)

au coleman (for author field)

ti racial profiling (for title field)

Limit (filter) restrict search results to a subset of the database e.g., by language, year of publication, type of publication
Add to folder select or save records from search results for future action save specified records to display, print, email, or add to bibliographic manager (e.g., RefWorks) later



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Search approximately 300 million books, scholarly articles, newspaper articles, data, digital audio, digital video, digital images, government documents and more. It draws from the library catalog (OBIS), many of the full text and article indexing databases, as well as digital repositories from colleges, universities, research centers, and other open-access archives on the web. 

InterLibrary Loan

Can't find what you need?  For books, try OhioLINK. For books not available through OhioLINK and for other types of materials, use Interlibrary Loan (ILL).  ILL lets you borrow materials from non-OhioLINK libraries, including print books, scanned journal articles, musical scores, videos, theses/dissertations, and more. 

Research Help


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Elizabeth Sullivan
Terrell Main Library, Mudd 103