AU Library Guide to Researching Topics in Women's Studies

Sample search using the AltaVista search engine:

1. Whether you are searching library catalogues, journal databases or the WWW, it is always a good idea to have a look at the help files to see how Boolean Operators, truncation, and other search functions are handled. Here is a snapshot of part of the AltaVista help file. You can see that AltaVista supports the Boolean Operators AND/OR/AND NOT, truncation * and nesting () among other search functions.


2. Enter the search statement into the search box: "body image" and education and (adolescen* OR teen*)

AltaVista accepts either and/AND, but OR must be capitalized. Put quotation marks around "body image" to ensure that it is searched as a phrase.

Click on "FIND".


3. Search results: AltaVista found 18,124 results. Large result sets are fairly typical for Web searches. Click on the title to retrieve the Web page. Most searchers don't look beyond the first ten to twenty results or so. Is there a way to focus the search, reduce the result set, and increase relevance?


4. There are many possibilities. Let's try a very narrow search:

strategies AND promoting AND "healthy body image" AND adolescen*

This search retrieves a much more manageable result set: 134 items. Of course not all items will be relevant, of appropriate quality to include in a research paper, or free of charge.




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