How to begin?
To find keywords for your search, start by asking the following questions:
- Who do you want to study?
- What major events did this person participate in?
- What where this person's accomplishments?
Once you know the above information, then you are ready to search an article database. JSTOR, Historical Abstracts, and World History (Gale in Context) are good places to start.
- Use AND to connect keywords and phrases when searching electronic databases for journal articles.
- segregation AND Gandhi
- Gandhi AND "Dandi Salt March"
- Einstein AND relativity
You can even try a search for (Einstein) AND (Gandhi)
Unlike Google, you will not get satisfactory results if you type an entire sentence, such as "What did Gandhi think about the caste system?You will need to pick out key phrases, words, and concepts.
- Use truncation (an asterisk).
- Gandhi and assassinat* will bring up results for assassination, assassinated, assassinate, and any other word that starts with the selected root of "assassinat"
- If you don't use truncation, some databases will only look for an exact match to the words you typed, and you may miss relevant materials.
- WARNING: if you shorten the root word too much, you may get irrelevant results. Searching for relat* will turn up results about the Theory of Relativity, but it will also bring up results about relationships.
- Use your imagination.
- Think of all the possible ways to describe your topic. An article about Gandhi's hunger strikes might not include the phrase "hunger strike" anywhere in it. Instead, you may find the the article contains the word "fast."
- To get the best results, use the word OR inside parentheses.
- Gandhi and ("hunger strike" or fast)