This is the "Search Strategies" page of the "Sociology-Radloff" guide.
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Last Updated: Feb 19, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Search Strategies Print Page

Getting Started

1.   Get Organized. Research can be time consuming so take a few minutes to get organized and think about what you are looking for. Do you need current or historical information, statistical data or facts?

2.  Break your Topic down into Keywords or Concepts. Think about possible synonyms for those words and phrases. Many searches may work with a single key concept, but you will often have two or more.

3.   Start broadly and narrow down as you go. Your first searches will give you a feel for what kind of information is available.

4.  Scan the results of your search to see what kind of articles you retrieved. If you see a good article, look for additional keywords or even subject headings which have been attached to the article.  Try those in your search.

5.   Be flexible. You may need to broaden or narrow your search depending on the amount and kind of information you find.


Sample search topic

If your topic is: What is the effect of global warming on society?

 1. Identify keywords or phrases:       

    climate change          society          effect

 2. Explore synonyms for your keywords/phrases

climate change, global warming, climatic changes, temperature changes, climatology

society, social impact, people, groups, humans, public, social aspects, sociology

3. Use these terms in your search. Combine the synonyms with the word "OR".
   For example:  (climate change) or (global warming)

4. Add the second concept of keywords with the work "AND". For example: climate change AND society

5. Make sure to put parenthesis () or quotation marks "_" around the terms that are phrases.

6. Truncation symbol in most of our databases is an "*" so that:
      climat* would give you: climate, climates, climatology, etc.
      sociolog* would give you: sociology, sociological, sociologist
      theor* would give you: theories, theorist, theoretical

Adding a second concept

Remember to search in the advanced search mode.

Enter your 1st keyword(s)/phrase(s) in the first line.

Enter that key phrase and any synonyms in the second line of the search box.

Your search results should then include both concepts somewhere in the record.


Reviewing your articles

Once you have collected some articles, take a closer look at them.

Read and review what you have. Do you have enough information to support your topic?

If you don't like what you have or you don't have enough good information, go back to your search. Try some new keywords or a different database.

Explore some of the subject headings from the articles that you do want to use.

If some of your articles have bibliographies you might want to look at some of the sources listed in those bibliographies.

If you're stuck -- ask a librarian for help.


Keeping track of your search

Keep track of your search and your results. Remember research is a process and you may try many things before you find what works best for your topic.

Keep track of your search terms and jot down other words you find while perusing the articles that result from your searches.

The "search history" option under the search box can also help with that.

Put interesting articles into a "folder" so that you can return to them later to decide if you want to look at the entire article. Every record in a search results list will give you the option of adding that article to a folder. Remember that folder stays with you only during the current search session so be sure to check it and email or print anything from  the folder that you want to keep before logging off.


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