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Introduction to Archival Research: Search and Discover

Search Strategies


What is the Discovery service?

The Discovery Service provides a single, unified search box for searching the holdings of the College of Charleston Libraries, including scholarly journal articles, books, e-books, internet documents, research reports, and much more.  Features of the service include:

  • Single, simple entry point for searching many databases at once, including the CofC Library catalog
  • Immediate search results
  • Detailed metadata (e.g., author-supplied abstracts,keywords, subjects)
  • Indexing for thousands of journals from publishers such as Sage, Elsevier, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and Cambridge
  • Complete library catalog loaded directly into Discovery, with real-time availability checks and daily updates
  • Ability to limit searches by date, source type, subject, content provider, full text availability, scholarly designation and more
  • User-friendly interface based on the familiar EBSCOhost platform

Searching Special Collections & SC Historical Society

From the library homepage, click the Classic Catalog link:

Once you arrive at the Classic Catalog page, click on the Collection dropdown menu:

And select Special Collections & SC Historical Society:

You may now search as usual, but the results will only yield items found in Special Collections & SC Historical Society.

Best of luck in your searching and please feel welcome to contact us at Special Collections if you need any further assistance.

Search Tips

  1. Like Google, by default, the Discovery Service searches all terms you have entered, without the need to use AND.  For example: children television violence will find items that contain all 3 terms.

  2. By default, the Discovery Service searches through the full text of documents (if available).  This may cause a large number of results, and not all are relevant to your subject.  Results are returned in a relevancy ranked order.

  3. Use the "Title" and "Author" radio dials if you know the title or author of an item for which you are searching. 

  4. To improve the relevancy of your search results, enclose phrases in "quotation marks".  For example:  "South Carolina" or "global warming". 

  5. Include the apostrophe.  For example, use "handmaid's tale" rather than "handmaids tale"

  6. To find variant endings for a word, use the * asterisk (truncation symbol.)  For example:  delinquen* finds delinquent, delinquents, delinquency

  7. To find books, e-books. videos or other items in the CofC libraries, refine your search by selecting "Catalog only."

  8. To find scholarly journal articles, refine your search by selecting "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals"

  9. You can refine a search by limiting to Language. However, be aware that many English language articles have not been tagged as English, so will be missing from your search results.

  10. Many items have direct links to retrieve the full text. For those that don't, use "Find it at CofC" to determine whether or not we have the item in print or online.

  11. To find subject specific databases, explore the "Research Guides" on the right side of the screen.

Classic Catalog

Subject Headings

Subject headings are a set of terms or phrases (known as controlled vocabulary) that classify materials.  Essentially they identify and pull together under a common umbrella information about a given subject.  Most online catalogs and databases use some form of subject headings, though they may also be called descriptors or keywords.

To identify subject headings relevant to your research topic:

  1. Locate an item relevant to your research topic in the online library catalog and click on the title to view the record for the item.
  2. Scroll through the record to the Subject headings (LCSH), these are the Library of Congress Subject Headings for this item.
  3. Click on a subject heading link to view an alphabetical list of subject headings.
  4. Click on a subject heading in this list to view a list of items that have been assigned that subject heading