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Tutorial: TOPCAT, the Library Catalogue: Search Authors

An essential tutorial for understanding how to find what's in our Library.

Searching TOPCAT by Author

Searching by Author

The quickest ways to search TOPCAT are by title and author. Use these if you have specific items in mind, like when your Prof recommends a book or an author.

Here's what the homepage of TOPCAT looks like.

  • It's the default search page.
  • If you enter your search term(s) and press <enter> it performs the default search, which is a keyword anywhere search.  This tutorial shows you how to make your searches more precise.

screen capture of TOPCAT homepage

Browse for Authors

To browse for an author:

  1. Select Browse as a "Search Type".
  2. Enter the last name of the author - followed by a first initial, if necessary.
  3. Click on the author button.

When you do this, TOPCAT provides an alphabetical list of ALL authors in the database, starting where your author should appear.

  • If you've typed it correctly, the closest match is at the top of the list.
  • Move through the list using the "Previous" and "Next" buttons on the top menu.
  • The number to the right shows how many items we have by each author.
  • Click on a name to see all items by that author.

Keep It Simple

Don't type too much information, because there's more chance of getting it wrong. Remember that a browse has to be specific, because it looks for a place in a list. 

  • Often authors don't use their entire name; they only use initials. (E.g. W. O. Mitchell) 
    • In this case, you won't find them if you look for the full name.  (William Mitchell)
  • Use just enough information to get close to the right place on the list; then you can move backwards and forwards.

Enter only the last name of the author, and a first initial if needed. (mitchell w)

To find books by: Enter: Results / Because:
Sample Author Browses
Tom Eadie eadie A list of authors with the last name of "Eadie".
It's a short list because "Eadie" is a unique name, so you can easily find the right one on the list.
R. Douglas Evans evans r A list of authors with the last name "Evans" and a first initial "R". 
"Evans" is a common name, so adding a first initial shortens the list you get.
Michael Von Albrecht albrecht m A list of authors with the last name "Albrecht".
This name is listed as "Albrecht, Michael Von".

 

Practice

Try searching for one of the authors above, or think of a different author to search for.

Keyword Author Search

You can also search for a author by keyword. It's not as specific as a browse, but it's useful if you don't know the correct name exactly, or if there are multiple authors.

To Keyword Search for a Title:

  1. Select Keyword as a "Search Type".
  2. Enter the author's last name.
  3. Click on the "Author" button.

You'll be shown a list of all the items in TOPCAT with that name as an author.

Multiple Authors

It's not unusual for academic books to have several authors.  You can shorten the list of results by entering several authors' last names, and TOPCAT will find items with all the names as authors.

  • It's a good idea to use "and" between the names: e.g. Jones and Smith.
  • Library catalogues consider the first named author to be the main author; all others are listed as "Added Authors".  You'll need to click on "Catalogue Record" to see that level of detail.

The Keyword Searching tutorial provides more detail on joining search terms.  It's the next tutorial you should read, but there's a link below in case you want to peek at it now.

Results

The results look different from a browse search:

  • You're not using an existing list - you're creating your own list.
  • They're not in alphabetical order - they're by date, newest first. 
  • They include ONLY items containing the search term as an author.
  • They're not grouped together by a specific author: if you search for "Jones", you get every book that lists any "Jones" as an author.

From Your List

Look through the results and click on items that look useful to find out more about them.

  • Your results include a variety of formats, both online and hard-copy (physical). 
  • Write down call numbers (discussed later in this tutorial) for physical items to find in the library, and follow links to online resources.
  • Use the options for "Find more" or "Nearby on shelf" in the left menu to find more items.
    • Usually authors write more than one book on a topic, using "More by this author" can find those.

Practice

Look for books with several authors.  See what results you get.  Think of your own combinations or use one of these:

  • Baker and Hamilton
  • Baker and Taylor
  • Northey and Timney

"Corporate" Authors

Authors aren't always people. Sometimes an author is an organization or corporation.

  • For instance, Canadian government publications have a corporate author of "Canada" and Ontario government publications have a corporate author of "Ontario".
  • "Trent University" is the author of many Trent reports, and an added author for theses.

Look for corporate authors just the same as people.

Practice

Look for books by some of the following authors.  Try keyword and browse searches, to compare results.

  • Ontario
  • Trent University
  • Microsoft
  • OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

Tips for Author Searching

  1. Search by last name. Use a first initial as well, if you need to shorten the list. Avoid full names.
  2. Capitalization is not needed.
  3. If there are multiple authors, use a keyword search and include the last names of several authors, with "and" between them.
  4. Keep in mind that TOPCAT doesn't tell us what's in every issue of every journal, so you won't find articles by authors - only major works such as books, films, etc.
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