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MUSI2130: Rock Music: Diversity and Justice: Search Tips

Oh No!

My article isn’t available in full-text!

If you’re using a database like Sociological Abstracts, you will only get a short summary of each article (the Abstract); not the full-text.  Click the “Check Here For Full-Text” link on the page to find out whether one of our other databases has it, or if we have another format for this information (print, microfilm, microfiche, etc.).

Trace Your Sources

When you find an interesting article, make sure you get the citation information!  Write down this information so that you (and your professor) can find the article, again.

Many databases offer the option to email a link to yourself, you can use citation management tool to keep track of your citations, or you can even save the full article in many cases.

Either of these options will make life a lot easier when it comes time to write your final paper.

The Key to Keywords

Tips for Effective Search Strategies

  1. Searching works best when you have a research question in mind. You should be able to identify key concepts related to your research. These concepts form the basis for your search terms.

  2. Know your topic. Exploring general sources (a chapter in your textbook, an encyclopedia article or other background reading) is a good way to start. The better you undestand a topic, the easier it is to evaluate sources.

  3. What is your purpose? You may be writing an argumentative or persuasive paper. Or, your assignment may require you to analyze research on a topic. Perhaps you are developing a slide presentation based on your evaluation of key sources.

  4. Start early. Until you have done some searching and reading, you might not recognize if your topic is too broad or narrow.

  5. Don't wait until the last minute. Good resources may not be available locally. Allow yourself time for an Interlibrary Loan.

  6. Select resources appropriate  for your topic. Your professor may ask that you use only peer-reviewed journals. Other professors may want you to use a combination of texts and articles, or news sources. Perhaps you will be doing primary research using interviews or observations.


Truncation Finds Multiple Word Forms

The asterisk (*) is usually used, to search words with the same root:

        Sociolog* =  Sociology, Sociological, Sociologist(s), etc.

Wildcard symbols (usually a ‘?’) replace a single letter:

        Wom?n = Woman, Women

Try the Thesaurus

Need More Specific Results?

Sometimes keywords that worked well in one database won’t be as effective in another.  If you find that your results are a bit scattered, try using that database’s terminology:  the Thesaurus or Subject Terms link.  Many databases have a list of designated words that are used to summarize a topic, but they may not be obvious to you.