A Cross-Cultural Search for Edible Insects

This image of an Advanced Search in the eHRAF World Cultures database shows a combination of OCM subjects and keywords that can be used in a cross-cultural study to find ethnographic texts on eating insects, and insects in diets and nutrition of cultures from around the world.

Performing a cross-cultural search for edible insects using HRAF specific OCM subjects and keywords in an eHRAF Advanced Search.

Performing a cross-cultural search for edible insects using HRAF specific OCM subjects and keywords in an eHRAF Advanced Search.

Steps in Using OCM subjects and keywords in an eHRAF Advanced Search

Step 1. Log on to eHRAF World Cultures by clicking on brown tab to the right (if prompted for authentication, email hraf@yale.edu for a temporary log-in). Once in eHRAF click the Advanced Search tab.

Step 2. Find the best matching OCM subjects for topics related to cooking, eating, diet, and nutrition

Click Add Subjects –use the A-Z Index, Major Subjects or OCM Code tabs.  Click on the 3- or 4 digit number to read the subject description (this helps in deciding whether a subject is relevant to ones research topic). Click on the box to the left of a subject name and then Add Subject so that the selected subject appears on the list.

Hint! Topics Covered at the HRAF’s home page shows the entire list of OCM subject that are indexed and searchable in eHRAF. Write down the 3- and 4 digit numbers and then use the OCM Code tab to find the numbers associated with the subjects.

Step 3. Refine your search by using truncated keywords (e.g. insect* for singular-insect and plural–insects) and different names (e.g. bugs, locusts, crickets, beetles, worms, etc.).

Caution! An OCM subject with keywords can refine, and if several words are used, can even enhance a search.  However, there is a downside to searching with keywords as it also limits the power of a “stand alone” OCM subject search.  Why? Because an OCM subject search without keywords finds passages of texts that are about the topic (e.g. various types of diet) that use different words to describe or refer to it.

Step 4. Set Boolean operators prudently!
AND to narrow the search
OR to expand the search
(see green and red circle in image above)
Click here to learn more about Boolean operators in eHRAF’s Advanced Search tips

Step 5. Click Search to search across the cultures in the various regions of the major regions of the world and even shows the subsistence types associated with the culture names.

An image of how a typical culture results page looks like for a cross-cultural search in eHRAF World Cultures.  Using the tables the results can be sorted by subregion, culture name, OWC, subsistence type, sample type, number of documents, and number of paragraphs.

An image of how a typical culture results page looks like for a cross-cultural search in eHRAF World Cultures. Using the tables the results can be sorted by subregion, culture name, OWC, subsistence type, sample type, number of documents, and number of paragraphs.

Post written by Christiane Cunnar, HRAF Member Services.  Contact her at hraf@yale.edu for a current log-in and briefly describe to her your research topic so she can give you helpful tips in searching HRAF’s cross-cultural databases effectively.

Related Link: An August 7, 2014 NPR article about “farming” edible insects in the U.S.

More Search Methods Posts:

Related eHRAF User Guide Links

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