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Germanic Studies: Search Tips

Search Tips

Search Tools

A well-constructed search string will help you search databases more effectively. This search string can use three helpful tools: Boolean operators, phrase searching, and truncation.

Boolean Operators

Operators: AND, OR, and NOT

Boolean operators are used to combine search terms efficiently and assign functions to these terms. Boolean operators include:

  • AND: Combining terms with AND means that all terms must be present. 
    • masculinity AND literature: This search string will produce results that mention both masculinity and literature, such as articles about how masculinity is represented in literature.
  • OR: Combining terms with OR means that at least one term must be present.
    • masculinity OR men: This search string will produce results that mention masculinity, men, or both. Your results would therefore include articles about representations of men in literature even if the term 'masculinity' is not used.
  • NOT: Combining terms with NOT means that the term that follows NOT must be absent.
    • gender NOT femininity: This search will produce results that mention gender, but exclude any results that refer to femininity. 

Several of these operators can be used in the same search string. In this case, operators should be grouped together with brackets or separate lines of a search. This grouping is similar to the use of brackets in a math equation. 

  • (masculinity OR men OR (gender NOT femininity)) AND literature AND German

Phrase Searching

Operator: " "

With many databases, the default when multi-word search terms are used in a search string is to treat those words as separate terms combined with the operator AND. These terms may therefore show up separately, rather than as a single term, and in any order. To connect the words into a phrase, use quotation marks.

  • "Hartmann von Aue" will produce search results that have those terms together, side-by-side.


Operator: *

Truncation produces results with different variants of a word. Rather than typing out each possible variant, cut off the word where the ending might change and add an asterisk.

  • German* will produce search results with terms such as German, Germans, Germany, and Germanic.