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ANT 220: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Search for Academic Sources in Library Databases

Guide to help students in ANT 220 complete their first research paper. Fall 2017

Finding Academic (Scholarly) Sources in Databases

Searching academic databases is different than searching an Internet search engine such as Google. When you search in an Internet search engine, you simply type in your research question. When you search a library database, you must break your research question down into components called keywords.

Effective database searching requires that you generate a keyword list, that is, words that mean the same thing.

Identifying Keywords

Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be found easily by scanning:

If you are still struggling, then try these suggestions:

  • Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms.
  • Find pictures related to your topic, then describe the picture.
  • Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.

How to Get Full-Text

When searching for journal articles, you will notice the View Now button on many of your search results. Clicking on the View Now button will lead you to links for the full-text of the article or let you know that we do not have electronic full-text for that article.

If the full-text is not available, you can search InfoKat Discovery for a hardcopy of the article or request an interlibrary loan (ILL), if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions about View Now

Having trouble? Ask Us for help.

Anthropology Databases

Search Tips

 To improve the quality of your search results, consider trying:

  • Wildcards/Truncation
    • Using a wildcard searches more than one form of the word.
      • famil* searches family, families, familial, familiar, etc.
    • Most common is *.
    • Two exceptions for UK Libraries are:
      • InfoKat uses a question mark (?)
      • LexisNexis uses an exclamation point (!)
  • Quotation Marks - keep 2 or more words together as a phrase.
    • "kinship system"  searches for the phrase kinship system, not the word kinship by itself and not the word system by itself.
  • Boolean Operators - broaden/narrow searches
    • AND narrows a search
      • Cats AND dogs yields results that are each about both cats and dogs.
    • OR searches any of the terms
      • Cats OR dogs for searches for sources about cats and sources about dogs.
    • NOT excludes term(s) following NOT
      • Cats NOT dogs will provide results about cats that don't include results about dogs.

If you are not sure how something works, use the help or tips screen on the database, or contact  a reference librarian at or  (859) 218-2048..

(borrowed from Valerie Perry's Agriculture Research Guide)