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SHB SOC130, 220 and 335 Research and Resources in Sociology: Database search tips

Tips for better searching

In EBSCOhost/ProQuest:

An asterisk ( * ) at the stem of a word will find all forms of the word: 
          Example:   educat*= education, educable, educate.

Quotes around phrases (" ") will insure that your keywords are searched as a phrase; rather than individual words.
          Example:  "social work," not  social AND work

Question marks (?) can be used as wild cards to replace an unknown letter or letters in a keyword. This is helpful with spelling issues. 
Example:  Einst??n = Einstien or Einstein
 
Other databases like LexisNexis Academic may use the same or different characters for stemming (!) or wild cards (* ).  When searching a database unfamiliar to you, check the the "Help" section of the database to determine the search symbols for that database.

Request Articles via InterLibrary Loan using the Find It Button

Search Tips

Searching a database in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Brainstorm keywords (words you use to describe your topic).

Step 2: Constructing your search:

Choose database(s). Start most sociology research with SocIndex and/or Academic Search Complete. On the search page, type your keywords in the boxes provided. Remember, you are typing words or word phrases, not questions. You will get more results if you do not select a search field. Select the peer-reviewed limiter to limit your results to peer-reviewed or scholarly articles. Hit search.

Step 3: Examine results:

Too many results? Try applying a date limiter or using more narrow keywords to describe your topic. For example, if you searched "racism," try narrower terms like "prejudice" or "discrimination." You can also add terms to narrow your search, such as "race and education," or "race and media." There may be search terms suggested on the left side of your results page or you can search terms using the THESAURUS or SUBJECT index that is often provided with the database.

Not enough results? Use the same strategy as for too many results. Try new keywords from your brainstorm list or those suggested by the database.

Found the perfect article? First, see if it is offered in full text. If not, click the "Find it" button to find the article in print or another database or order it through Inter-Library Loan. Next, don't stop searching! Look at the "subject terms" or "author supplied" terms to see if those terms match your keywords. If not, try some searches using those terms.