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Prof. Zwick - CJ111 Intro to Crim. Justice FALL 2021: Developing a Search Strategy / Databases

Develop a Search Strategy

Search Strategies: using keywords, truncation, and synonyms:

Relevant keywords are necessary for effective research. You can start by taking keywords from your thesis statement.

There are other ways to develop additional keywords.

1. Use synonyms and related concepts: (Ex. Criminal behavior OR deviant behavior)

Think of other words that mean the same or similar things as the words in your question. It can help to brainstorm before you begin your search.

Look at the subject terms in your search results and see if you can use any of those.

2. Use truncation: the computer will locate alternative endings for a word when you place an asterisk -- the * symbol -- at the end of the root of a word.

For example, typing victim* will yield results for:

            Victim, victims, victimized, victimization, victimology

Using crim* will yield results for:

            Crime, crimes, criminal, criminals, criminology, criminality

When searching, try different combinations of keywords. For example:

  • Deviant behavior AND criminal theory
  • Criminal AND theory (Ex. Social Process theory, Conflict theory)
  • Developmental theory AND criminal behavior
  • Criminology AND Social conflict theory 
  • Criminological theories AND violence
  • Serial murderers AND psychology

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