What is a Broader Term?

As the name implies, here, a broader term is one that encompasses a wider "scope" for the materials included. When you aren't finding enough material to support your research, consider using a broader term to "widen your net."

In our example of endangered species, broader terms might include: "wildlife conservation," "nature conservation" or even "National Parks and Reserves." Each of these includes materials that will encompass our topic but will go beyond endangered species.

What is a Narrower Term?

Library catalogs and specialized article databases will often create a "hierarchy" for categorizing the words and phrases they use in the database. As the name implies, narrower terms are those that include a smaller subset of the full database. Narrower terms are most useful when you are finding more things related to your topic than you can really deal with. Narrower terms allow you to be more "precise" in your retrieval.

What is an Alternate Term?

Library catalogs and specialized article databases often define what they mean with the words and phrases they use. Our catalog uses "Library of Congress Subject Headings" as a way of making sure materials on the same subject come up, even if the author uses different words in the title.

For example, you can use the term "forest" or "timber." They both involve trees and forest, but the former has more biological connotations and the latter has more industrial connotations for what you would expect to find.

What is a Web Search Engine?

As the name implies, Web search engines find Web sites containing the words you are looking for. Unlike article databases or library catalogs, search engines usually rely on automated means, typically called spiders, robots, worms or ants, to identify the pages they will include.

What is a Library Catalog?

A library catalog is a computer database containing information for each item the library owns. This includes all the books in the library, as well as videos, journal subscription records, links to selected web pages, etc.

Books on your topic can be found by performing searches for words in subjects or titles in library catalog records. You can find out if the library owns a particular journal or magazine by searching for words in the title of the journal.

The Todd Library catalog is maintained by staff here in the library.

What is an Article Database?

Article databases provide a way to search for articles on particular subjects in magazines or journals. Databases may include the full text and/or graphics of articles or they may only include the author, title, date, journal title, issue and page numbers for each article.

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