Answered By: Chris Clouser
Last Updated: Jan 29, 2015     Views: 92

I can't give you a hard and fast rule to use when searching for in-laws, because different databases do different things. First, you might just search for the term 'inlaws". Many of the databatase I looked at use that word as a subject term without the hyphen or a space. You might also want to try searching "inlaw*" (drop the 's' and add an asterisk). In many databases, the asterisk is the truncation character and it will match on the word inlaw OR inlaws. If the database does use the hypen (and most databases that do consider punctuation replace the character with a space), you could use the tactic to search for a phrase in quotation marks, e.g. "daughter-in-law" or "mother-in-law". The quotation marks tell the system to look for an exact phrase. To match on any type of in law, you might have to structure a search like this: ("mother-in-law" or "father-in-law" or "daughter-in-law" or "son-in-law" or "sister-in-law" or "brother-in-law") and ....... You give the system all the possible choices as phrases joined by an 'OR'. Put all of the choices in parenthesis and then you can join the whole group with an 'and'. That tells the system to look for one of the phrases AND whatever other terms you tell it. Here's an example of how you might construct the search: ("mother-in-law" or "father-in-law" or "daughter-in-law" or "son-in-law" or "sister-in-law" or "brother-in-law") and children and (disablit* or disable*) The final parentheses tells the system to look for disability, disabilities, disabled, etc. Most databases also have a "Thesaurus" or "Subjects" option so that you can look at the terms assigned as subject headings. This 'controlled vocabularly' is often useful for selecting the exact meaning you are looking for. Use the "Thesaurus" or "Subjects" link on the searching page and then 'browse" for the term you want to look up. If it is used in that database, there will be an entry. You can also usually click on the subject term to find other broader, narrower or related terms. If the database doesn't use the term you entered, it will usually give you term it does use. For example, when I looked at the "Subjects" part of the SocINDEX database for "inlaw", I found that they will often use the term "Affinal Relatives". This term is used anytime they are talking about people related by marriage. The standard terms do change from database to database, so you may need to check in each one. Your choice of database to search will also have implications for how successful your search might be. I would suggest you check the following: SocINDEX, Sociological Collection, PsycInfo, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), Health Source (Nursing/Academic edition), Medline, SportDiscus, ERIC (Educational Resource Information Center), Academic Search Complete, InfoTrac OneFile, and Wilson OmniFile. You can find these by going to the Library Home Page ( clicking on "Article Databases". This will give you the alphabetic list of all databases IUP supplies. Then click on the database you want from the list. For what you are doing, it is best to search them individually rather than trying to search across several databases at one time. Using multiple databases will often disable the ability to search for standard subject terms or use some of the more advanced search features built into some databases.

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