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Events
  • Otis Books is pleased to publish Tim Erickson’s debut collection of poetry, Egopolis, a textual journey through destruction, resistance, city, and the Ego, from ancient times to the present day. Erickson’s work has appeared in the Chicago Review, Western Humanities Review, and the Salt Anthology of New Writing. He lives in Salt Lake City.

  • Otis Graduate Writing students will read from their works-in-progress.

  • Exquisite Beauty is the first retrospective and publication to document the eye-dazzling ceramics created by Ralph Bacerra (1938–2008), a Los Angeles–based artist known for his innovative approach to surface embellishment. Curated by Jo Lauria, the exhibition features more than ninety of the artist’s finest pieces—dramatic, highly decorated vessels and sculptures that have never before been the focus of a major exhibition or publication.

  • Opening Reception for Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty

  • David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota and currently teaches at USC. He is the author of the novels Little, The Hiawatha, The Translation of Dr. Apelles, named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, as well as a critical work, Native American Fiction: A User's Manual. In 2012, he published another nonfiction work, Rez Life.

  • Angela Flournoy’s first novel The Turner House was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for The New Republic, The Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. Flournoy has taught at the University of Iowa and Trinity Washington University. She lives in Los Angeles.

  • Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction, and her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her most recent novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. With David Remnick she co-edited the anthology Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker. A recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, and in 2010, the inaugural winner of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award, Choi lives in Brooklyn.

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About Keyword Searching

Search Strategies

A search strategy is an organized method to retrieve information about a specific topic. Use the techniques described below to become a better researcher.

Keyword Searching

In databases and search engines, it is possible to do a broad search for information by typing in a term which you feel describes your topic and using it as a keyword. Every occurrence of your keyword from all the searchable fields will be found. The searchable fields could include the full-text of an article or an entire web page.

You may retrieve a large number of hits. Look carefully at a couple of the relevant hits to get ideas for other terms which could help you refine your search.

Keyword searching can be time consuming and exhausting because it is such a broad method of searching. It can be particularly confusing when searching in a full-text database or when using a search engine on the Web. Remember: Finding too much information is just as problematic as finding too little information.

How can you refine a search?

The distinguishing characteristic of a database is that it contains records with fields that can be sorted, arranged, and searched (see Types of Databases for more information). When confronted with an overabundance of results in a first broad keyword search, you can  narrow your search by limiting it to specific fields. See also: How to broaden or narrow your topic

Searching by Subject Keywords

In some databases (such as EBSCO) you can limit your search to the major content fields: subject, title, and abstract. This will return fewer hits because the term will appear less often when limited to fewer fields. These hits will probably be more relevant to the subject.

Searching by Keywords in Subject Headings

This method narrows your search even further because it limits the keyword search to only one field: the Subject Heading field. In the Otis OPAC (using the Advanced Search), this is called subject keyword. Using a keyword browse or scan allows you to browse terms in a list form. Browsing this list can help you find the correct form of the word (very helpful if you aren't a good speller!). It also shows the number of hits you can expect if you search using the word.

Searching Subject Headings

Searching the Subject Headings field is a very specific method of searching. Subject headings are determined by a human being (an indexer or cataloger) after carefully reading or looking at the item. Each item will have only a few subject terms which must be chosen from a list of allowable subject headings, a controlled vocabulary.

Browsing Subjects is a Good Search Strategy

Because searching subjects is more specific than searching keywords, browsing the subject headings (the allowable terms) from the database is a good way to discover new terms to try. For an example of how to use this search strategy, see Example of How to Clarify Your Topic.

Controlled Vocabularies

In the case of book records in library OPACs, subject headings are usually assigned by catalogers at the Library of Congress at the time the book is published and actually printed within the book (on the back of the title page).

LC publishes a several-volume thesaurus of allowable subject headings called LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings). Librarians rely on it as a means of controlling the terms added to the subject field. Since subject headings are created by humans rather than software, searching subject headings is the most precise method of searching.

The LCSH is an excellent place to look if you need ideas or help in figuring out what terms to search. Call Number: Ref. Z 695.

How can you refine a search on the Web?

Since the Internet is not organized in the same way a research database is, you usually cannot do field searching on the Web nor can you rely on the consistency of a controlled vocabulary. But keep in mind that it is possible to use Boolean operators when searching the web; remember to check the instructions for the search engines you use.