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Research Guides

SCR WRIT 50 - Music and Healing in the African Diaspora - Professor Rann - FA 17

Defining Your Information Need

Thinking through your search before you begin will help you be more effective overall. Think about the questions below to help yourself devise the most useful study strategy to you. 


Tools for brainstorming keywords

General Search Tips

  • Many (if not most) of the historical primary sources we have access to are from a western/white/colonial perspective.
  • When searching for primary sources keep in mind that the country names, names for groups of people, etc. have changed over the years. You will often get better results if you try searches using both modern and historical terms.
  • If you are interested in a particular country, try searches for the country name as well as the region, i.e. Ghana OR West Africa.
  • Pay attention to the publication dates for secondary sources - scholarly methodologies and perspectives can change
  • How you enter your words into the search box makes a difference in the results you get:

    Use AND to connect different concepts and narrow your search

    Example: (food AND politics)

    Use OR to connect synonyms and similar concepts to broaden your search

    Example: (fsa OR farm security administration)

    Use * at the root of a word to find all forms of a word

    Example: paint* will find painter, painters, painting, paintings

    Use " " around a phrase to find just that phrase

    Example: “personal space” will find that exact phrase only

    Use ( ) to tell the computer which terms to connect with OR and which with AND

    Example: (ecology OR “ecological issues”) AND (arizona OR southwest*)