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PSCJ 111 - Introduction to Criminology - Professor Mitrione: Search Strategies

This guide is a companion to a course library literacy session. It is created to help students efficiently find, evaluate, select, and cite quality information resources such as books, journal articles, multimedia and web resources for term papers and oth

Example Problem/Thesis

Search Strategies

Search Strategies: using keywords, truncation, and synonyms:

Relevant keywords are necessary for effective research.  Use your thesis statement to help you select useful keywords. 

You can start by taking keywords from your thesis statement, for example:

                  My Research Question/Assertion:

Scientific research supports a bio-social theory of criminal behavior, suggesting that there are genetic and environmental links to the traits of both low self-control and aggression.

But don't stop there! Research is a process of trial and error, and often you won't get the results you want on your first attempts. There are two important ways to develop additional keywords that you should know about:

1. Use synonyms and related concepts: think of other words that mean the same or similar things as the words in your question. For example, the following words might be used: For example Genetic/Biological/Inheritance;

Also use professional words that experimenters and researchers might use: Biosocial, Bio-social, Traits; causal factors; Aggressive Behavior, self-control; predictor; mal-adaption.

2. Use truncation: the computer will locate alternative endings for a word when you place an asterisk -- the * symbol (shift eight on the keyboard) -- at end of the root of a word. For example, if I use biol* the computer will search biology AND biological.

ADD an "OR" to expand search -- "genetic OR biological"

When searching, try different combinations of keywords. If you get too many results (for example, in a Google search), add more words to your search; if you get too few results (for example, when searching for books), use fewer keywords.

Now you're ready to begin your research.

TIP! Use Subject Headings to Guide Your Term Selection

Example of Subject Headings in the Catalog



Example of Subject Headings in a Database



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