What is meant by media?
Media can come in a lot of different forms. It can be movies, advertisements, newspapers, magazines, websites, commercials, and many more things...
What are some different ways to search your social group?
Often, different social groups (African Americans, Immigrants, LGBT+, etc.) can go by different names. For instance, if you were searching LGBT groups you might want to search LGBT, LGBTQ, Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Pan-sexual, transgender, trans, and a variety of other terms. Searching a variety can help expose you to more resources. When searching primary or historical resources, you might even consider searching outdated terms which are no longer used today. Also, when doing research, see how your group is referred to by different media stories and try searching these as well. This will help expose you to even more depictions of your social group for examination and study.
Why do I bring this up?
In order to maximize your results when searching, you will likely want to use a variety of search terms whether this be for whatever social group you are studying or whatever types of media you wish to explore. For instance, you may wish to study LGBT depictions in the media, you will want to search using the variety of terms explored above for this social group. Additionally, you will will perhaps also search each different type of media separately. Therefore, you will not simply wish to stop with an LGBT AND Media search. Instead, you may wish to search a variety of things, such as LGBT AND advertisements, lesbians AND film, transgender AND news, etc.
Connecting media and the social groups you are researching...
Alright, so you have an idea of the terms to search for... Now what? Well, one of the ways that you can maximize your searches is through Booleans such as AND, OR, and NOT. These can help narrow and expand your results as needed.
Putting AND between two terms limits your results to only those that contain both terms and is a great way to narrow your search. This may be the most useful, especially if you are searching a specific social group and a specific type of media. For example, you might search: Native Americans AND film, Immigrants AND news, African Americans AND music, etc.
Putting OR between two terms will expand your results to give you even more results. This is particularly helpful if your group is referred to by several different names. For instance, in different media sources, Native Americans can also be referred to as American Indians. To search both simultaneously, you can search Native Americans OR American Indians.
Putting NOT between two terms will limit your results by taking out a specific set of words that may be interfering with your results. Going back to our Native American example, you might discover you are getting a lot results about people from the country of India when you use the term Indians. One way to prevent this from happening if you are searching the term Indians, is: Indians NOT India This will eliminate many of those results talking about people from India.
Additional Tips and Tricks
There are a few other tips and tricks worth mentioning. One of the thing you might notice about your group is that some of the social groups are singular words such as immigrant, women, or refugee. However, other groups may have multiple words, such as African Americans, Mexican Americans, etc. The problem of searching multiple word phrases such as Latin American Refugees, is that this search often searches these terms separately. Therefore, you might get results about the Latin language, results about all things American, and results about Refugees regardless of where they come from. While some of these might be about your topic, others may not be as relevant. One way to combat that would be to put "quotes" around your search phrase. For instance, you could search "Latin American Refugees" in quotes and this would search these terms as a phrase rather than each word individual, ensuring your results are a bit more precise.
Another thing you might realize as you are doing searches is that there are multiple ways to spell or phrase some words. For instance, perhaps the social group you wish to research is Latinos. Now, what do you enter? Should you enter Latino or Latinos? Should you also do a search for Latina and Latinas? One option, would be to use a wildcard asteristk (*). This will allow you to search all of these at the same time. For example, if you search Latin*, this will search everthing with that starting with the words "Latin" and just fill in the rest. That said, Latin*, would search Latin, Latino, Latina, Latinos, Latinas, Latinx, and anything else starting with "Latin".
By now, you are probably thinking that all these strategies are great, but I wish there was a way to combine them. Well, lucky for you, this is an option with nested parenthesis searching. Similar to a math equation, you can break your search down into parts with parenthesis. For instance, if you search ("American Indians" OR "Native Americans") AND (movies OR films), this will search the following combinations: American Indians AND movies, American Indians AND films, Native Americans AND movies, and Native Americans AND films.
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