SuperSearch can be a great place to cast a wide net, since it searches almost everything the library has (journal articles, books, films, newspaper articles, and more), in one easy-to-use interface. You can use the filters on the results screen to refine your search and improve your results.
Because SuperSearch contains so much content from so many different kinds of sources and academic disciplines, it can be hard to focus a search to get the most relevant results. At the same time, SuperSearch is also not comprehensive and can miss key sources, especially in literary studies. To search with more focus, precision, and depth, be sure to try the specialized databases recommended on this guide, or search the library catalog for books and films.
Specialized databases can help you focus your search on articles and books in your area of interest, with an emphasis on scholarly sources. They will also turn up results that SuperSearch misses. It's always a good idea to try more than one database. Even when there's considerable overlap in content, the different features of each database will help you find different sources. See the Search Tips & Tutorials page of this guide for some search techniques and strategies.
MLA Search Tip: MLA International Bibliography is an index, so you're searching a small amount of information about each source, rather than the source itself. Trying a variety of keywords is often essential to getting the best results in MLA. Make note of relevant keywords and subject terms that come up in your initial searches, and use those terms to find more. The MLA Thesaurus, linked at the top of the search screen, can also be helpful for identifying search terms.
Start with a keyword search. Once you find a book that's relevant to your topic, click on the title and look for the Subjects listed for that book to help you find "more like this" and explore related aspects of a broader topic.
Example: Keyword search: keats AND politics
Subject terms for the books that come up in this keyword search lead you to many more books on aspects of the topic, for example:
Keats, John, 1795-1821 -- Political and social views
Keats, John, 1795-1821 -- Criticism and interpretation
Politics And Literature -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th Century
Radicalism -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th Century
Searching the text of historic documents can be tricky, since you need to consider vocabulary that was used at the time. Keep track of useful terms, phrases, and variant spellings you find, and use them to search for related material.
Try using OR to combine several spellings of search words or synonyms, such as:
bluestocking OR blue-stocking
Also try truncation to get variations in spelling that have the same root:
adverti* to get advertize OR advertise