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GEOLSCI 150/GEOPHYS 199: Senior Seminar: Issues in Earth Sciences: Search tips and tricks

This course guide offers research tips and resources to successfully navigate Issues in Earth Sciences.

Searching tips and tricks

Whether your searching the library catalog, Searchworks, or a specialized database, it's good to keep these tips and tricks in mind for better results.

Searching Tips

  • Less is more!  If you don't find enough results on cycling of nitrates, instead try nitrogen.
  • Expand time or geography. If you don't find enough results on Pre-Eocene San Joaquin-Tulare Basins, instead try (mesozioc or paleozoic or precambrain) AND San Joaquin.
  • Limit with caution. Certain features may limit your retrieval in ways you don't expect. Some recommended limits are: Source Type, Date, and Limiting to “Peer reviewed” (in Basic and Advanced Search).
  • GeoRef search tip: The truncation symbol is an asterisk (*) and the wildcard is a questionmark (?). Using the * on a word will look for ALL possible variations for that word:
    • environment* will search for environment, environmental, environments …
    • [*3]magnet* will search for magnetic, demagnetization, geomagnetic, geomagnetism …
    • geolog*  will search for geology, geologic, and geological
  • Remember to use Boolean logic. Use the OR search connector to search for different phrasings. If you use AND and OR search commands in the same search, put parentheses around the OR terms: try (mesozoic or paleozoic or precambrian) AND San Joaquin.
  • To specify a location, consider your site at different scales. For information about Lake Tahoe, use terms like:
    • Lake Tahoe
    • Northern Sierra Nevada
    • State names (California and Nevada); County names
  • Also add geologically-related terms:
    • tectonics
    • stratigraphy
    • paleogeography
    • mines and mining
  • And consider both time periods and rock formations:
    • Cambrian, Pleistocene, etc.
    • Navajo Sandstone

Subject Searching

For a more directed search, do a subject search. In a subject search, you need to use official Library of Congress terminology. This type of language might not seem natural to you, but if you are not having any luck with keywords, it can be quite useful. For example, to find a guide for the Lake Tahoe region, you would type:

  • Geology--California--Guidebooks
  • Geology--Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)--Guidebooks
  • Geology--Nevada--Reno Region--Guidebooks

Other "official" subject terms include:

  • Geology, Structural
  • Faults (Geology)
  • Geology, Stratigraphic
  • Geology, Stratigraphic--Pleistocene
  • Plate tectonics

Subject Terms

For the subject Geochemistry:

  • search also under the broader term Chemistry
  • search also under the broader term Earth sciences
  • search also under the narrower term Analytical geochemistry
  • search also under the narrower term Biogeochemistry