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FREN-39902 Tracing Colonial Racism: Search Strategies

Searching for French Language Resources

In general, you can search for French language resources simply by using French keywords, though some databases will have much more French language content than others. JSTOR, for example, is a better bet than Academic Search Complete, for French language articles, though both are worth trying. In Google Scholar, you can change your search language by doing the following: 

1. To get to Google Scholar, simply perform a Google search for "Scholar." This is not linked from the Library's website.

2. Once there, click the three bars in the upper left hand corner of your screen. From the menu, select "Settings"

3. Under the Settings menu, select "Languages"

4. Here, you can select "search only for pages written in" and check the box next to French. Save changes. Now proceed with your searching using your French keywords

* Pro tip! If you find that you hit a paywall (you find something you want to use and you are asked to pay to see it), simply copy the title and search it in Summon on the Library's homepage. Because it doesn't communicate with our Library website, Google doesn't know that the Library pays for you to have access to many items that are otherwise behind a paywall.

Constructing Keyword Searches

In our library databases, you'll find that you are asked to construct searches a bit differently than you might in Google, for example. You'll often see multiple search boxes (see below). These actually allow you to build more complex searches than one search box alone would. 

Let's say that you're interested in the gender dynamics of retellings of Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. Here is how I would construct that search:

This tells the database: I only want to find articles that talk about ALL 3 of these things: Gender, retellings, and Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. Note that this is NOT the same search as the following:

The above search just tells the database: try to find me something that has these words (ANY of these words or ANY combination of these words) appear in it. 

 

Boolean Operators

There are also advanced strategies to make your searches even better! One is to use logical formulas to construct them. We use Boolean Operators for this. Here is my search, again:

Let's say I did not get very many good results. That could be because I used the French version of the title and the word "retellings," which might not be the most common way to say this. I can BROADEN my search using the OR operator. See the following example:

Try to think about the different words that would show up in the articles you'd like to find. Consider synonyms, translations, or even words that are slightly narrower or broader than your first word. For example, I might say "Gender OR Masculinity" in the first box. This strategy will give you many MORE search results, so don't use it unless you aren't getting enough relevant results.