The PUL library catalog is the place to begin your search to determine what books (and other items) we have at Princeton related to your research. The catalog is NOT generally the place to look for magazine, journal and newspaper articles, but you can do a Title starts with... search to determine if we subscribe to a particular journal in print or electronic form. For articles, you would use Articles+ or a subject-specific database.
Try to think of words that are specific to your topic. Think of multiple ways to describe what you want.
Use quotes for exact phrases: “Lorenzo the magnificent,” “water lilies,” "history painting"
Combine keywords to narrow your search. The AND is automatic in the library catalog, but not usually in an article database (you must type AND, or use the Advanced Search):
“art patronage” Florence
history “venetian painting”
(sculpture renaissance) not rome
Leonardo and Madonna
France nineteenth painting
You can also use truncation: e.g. architect* picks up words like “architects” and “architectural” (typically a * or ?)
Keep your search simple. After doing a keyword search (the default search in the catalog), try and limit the results using the “facets” on the left-hand side, like: Subject: Genre, and Subject: Era (and Language). When you find at least one item that seems relevant to your search for content, click on the title and look more closely at the item’s record: if it’s a physical book (vs. an online book or other item), look at the Subject(s) under DETAILS at the bottom. Are they useful for locating similar content, if so, click on one or more portions of the subject term.
Most searchers search by keyword, but subject searching can be very powerful and more precise. When you search by Subject (browse), you can search directly using these subject terms, which might describe a very broad concept, like “mannerism,” or a very narrow one, like exhibitions of Donatello’s “Judith and Holophernes”.
Subject terms used in the library catalog are terms used by many libraries in North America developed and created by the Library of Congress. They have evolved over time and adapt to reflect historical norms and changes and to reflect the language we use now and societal norms, but they are not perfect and change is slow. In general, be as specific as you can when coming up with subject terms.
You must put your search words in a particular order when using Subject (browse). A subject can be a person, like an artist, architect, photographer or designer: LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, a specific (well-known) monument, an art movement, a general concept or theme, an artistic medium, a historical event, a geographical region, etc. Headings are left-anchored, which means you need only type in the first few letters/words to see all headings beginning with what you specify.
Alternatively, you can try a Subject (keyword) search to search for any word appearing within a subject term without regard for the proper word order. For both Subject (browse), and Subject (keyword), if there are too many results, one can "edit search" at the top and add an additional keyword to the search.
1. The Advanced Search will usually give you more options
2. Phrase searching: can put a phrase in quotes
3. Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT - connects two or more words to narrow or broaden a search, or to help clarify terms with multiple meanings (can be combined with phrase searching) [sometimes you have to type these in--in CAPS--and sometimes you will see them listed to connect subject terms (select AND, OR or NOT)]
4. Most databases we subscribe to that combine both scholarly and more popular sources allow one to limit to only scholarly, or peer-reviewed, or both types of resources
5. Most databases allow one to save results in a folder for future access, or to easily e-mail citations and/or full-text (e.g. a PDF) to oneself to consult later on. Just make sure to empty out the folder before leaving a database, or you will lose your saved items (unless you have created an account and logged in).
6. One can almost always limit by date and language (of the source)
7. Many databases includes abstracts or summaries of the books or journal articles so as to provide enough information, often, to know if it's worth it to read an item in its entirety online or go seek out in the library
8. Depending on the database, a range of material can be included: advertisements, book reviews, feature articles, book reviews, images, newspaper articles, dissertations, etc.
9. You may have to brainstorm a bit up front to determine all the possible ways your subject or key terms could be formulated both commonly and by the particular database/search engine you are using