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NSP: Math + Lit

NSP: Universe We Live In

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Examples of Controlled Language

Controlled language isn't always natural and may or may not be anything you would have imagined.

Suggestions to get started with your essay project:

  • Mathematics is a very general term that is somewhat encompassing of a large field of study, very similar to using literature, which is also a broad term that lacks specificity.  You will have much better success in narrowing your search if you seek to use more specific terminology, words such as:
    • geometry
    • curves
    • logic, symbolic and mathematical
    • probability
    • fables
    • poetry
    • satire
    • wit and humor
    • allegory
  • For infinity use: infinity (mathematics)
  • For cryptography use: cryptography or cryptographers
  • For kid's books use: children's literature
  • For golden ratio use: golden section
  • For rhyming stories use: stories in rhyme
  • For if-then use: Fuzzy sets or fuzzy logic

As general as using Mathematics and Literature can be while searching, they can be useful as a search strategy.  For instance if you are working on researching a specific concept or idea related to one, you can use the general term for the other to help narrow down your search. 

  • As an example you might be looking for sources about using math concepts to describe a love story. You might try searching: 
    • Symbolism in literature AND love AND mathematics; OR
    • Romance fiction AND mathematics; OR
    • Allegory AND love AND mathematics
    • or some other combination of your own choosing, don't be afraid to experiment!