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Margaret Smith Library, SAIAB: Tips for Successful Searches

The library at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity contributes to research and teaching in the aquatic sciences through heritage collections and a global web of data. Resources and services are shared with Rhodes University Library


  • Keywords are significant words. In a document these are used as an index to the content. These can be created by authors or indexers, and are often found below the abstract of an article.

How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords

(video from McMaster University)

Google Scholar vs. Google

Why use the Rhodes Library Google Scholar link when you can simply "Google" something? Here's why!

  • Searching for information this way lets you access Rhodes Library subscribed online journals 
  • You can view the full text of the articles to these subscribed journals
  • Google Scholar is also a quick way to review the peer-reviewed literature and find scholarly/academic research information

 Rhodes University Library Google Scholar link 

Research Starter

Search All at Rhodes University can link your keyword search to a "Research Starter" article. This is the research starter for the keyword biodiversity 

Research Starter


The study of biodiversity is relatively new. The word was coined by Edward O. Wilson in order to explain the biological living resources and wealth ... More

 Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science, January, 2014. 5p.

Additional Research Starters : Biodiversity action plans

Basic Search Techniques


Words may be right-hand truncated using an asterisk * in place of other characters.

aquacult* - aquaculture(s) aquacultural, aquaculturalist(s) ...

fish* - fishes, fishery, fisheries, fishing, fisherman  ... 

The wildcard may also be embedded in a search string.
environment* policit*

? replaces a single character anywhere within a word.

Boolean Operators
Use "and" or "or" to specify multiple words in any field, any order. Use "not" to exclude words.

fisheries and hake
(river or stream) and (fishes not trout)

Subject Headings on the OPAC

  • Subjects are the main focus of a work. Subject headings on the OPAC are assigned from standards created by cataloguers.
  • TIP: Searching the OPAC Subject Heading field and you don't find anything?  Unless you know the word you are looking for is definitely a catalogued subject heading, your search could be unsuccessful.
  • Start with a keyword search to find broadly relevant resources.

How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords
(video from McMaster University)

  • You can then use the subject headings of resources you like on the OPAC to find other relevant resources in the library.

Try it for your yourself by linking to the three subject headings for this book.

Sparidae : biology and aquaculture of gilthead sea bream and other species