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Research Guides

English Composition Guide

A supplement to library instruction sessions for EN 1113 (English Composition II), EN 1113H (Honors English Composition II), and EN 1173 (Accelerated Composition II).

Searching Strategies for Scholarly Journals & Books

You can find information on your subject by using the Mississippi State University Libraries Online Catalog & available databases. The searching strategies will work in the catalog and databases.

Two types of searches will help locate books: the 'SUBJECT' and 'KEYWORD' searches.

The Subject Search
Use this search when looking for books about a subject, such as genetically modified foods (GMO's). If you are looking for information on an author, you will enter the author's name (last name, first name).
The Keyword Search
Use this search when looking for resources that you do not know the subject heading for. Keyword searching will search the entire text.
If you are searching for social media - the catalog will search for the words social and media anywhere in the document. To get the results you need, put the two words in quotation marks - 'social media.'

You will need to add quotation marks at the beginning and end of phrase.
Example: 'Figure of Speech'

Boolean Searching (AND, OR, & NOT) to find information:
Boolean searching is used to show the relationship between words.

'Social Media' AND bullying = results will have everything that has those two words, but not appearing in a resource individually.

'online education' OR 'distance education' = results will include everything that includes the words together or individually in a resource

'service dogs' NOT German Shepherds = results will include all things about service dogs, but will exclude anything about German Shepherds 

Truncation is known as a 'Wildcard' search. By adding an asterisk (*) to find resources containing all spelled variations of a word or other endings to the root of a word. Be careful because some truncation will give you everything, meaning more than you bargained for.
Good Example:
adolescen* = results will include adolescent, adolescents, or adolescence
Bad Example:
Mar* = market, marketable, marguerite, marathon, marionette, maraschino, etc.

Serendipitous Browsing for Library Resources


"Woman browses books in an unknown library" by Nathan Williams/ CC BY SRR 2.0

Serendipitous Browsing leads to great finds in the library! You can do this without a computer, just take your self to the circulating collection and look to see what you can find! Use the Library of Congress (LOC) Call Numbers given below to search the Research Services Reference Collection, as well as the circulating collection.


Library of Congress Classification System Outline