10. Choose the right database
Use the Database page on the left to locate the best bets for searching for resources in Sociology. We recommend that you start with African American Experience, Ethnic NewsWatch, or Social Science Full Text. If those do not generate enough results, we recommend you use a more comprehensive database such as OneSearch or Academic Search Complete. You can browse all of the databases we have on our database A-Z page, where they are listed alphabetically.
OneSearch searches across all of our databases - it's a great place to start!
9. Use keywords, not natural language
Google and other resources may allow you to ask questions, such as, "How many immigrants live in the United States?" Databases require keyword searches, such as Immigration.
8. Use quotation marks for phrases
If you search using African American lawyers you will return results for every article that contains the african, every article that contains the word american, and every article that contains the word lawyer or lawyers. If you you search using "African American lawyers," your results will be limited to resources pertaining to African American lawyers.
7. Use operators
Operators are words like AND, OR, and NOT. These will help you build a more targeted search. Capitalize your operators.
6. Filter and sort your results
Most of our databases provide advanced filtering options, often on the left side of the results page. Use these to filter by such limiters as:
The default sort in your result list may not be the most useful for you. Sort by relevance, date, title, or author.
5. Use RefWorks
OneSearch and most of our databases allow you to pin or save articles you find so that you can return to them later. However, we have a third-party platform called RefWorks that allows you to save articles across resources. RefWorks is available at no cost to the SJSU community, including alum. This powerful resource has many features, including organizing your research, storing documents, and generating your bibliography. Use your SJSU email account to register and activate your account. Full information on RefWorks is available on our Refworks SubjectGuide.
4. RATS - Read Across The Screen
Our databases offer a wide variety of functions. Read all areas of the screen on your search or results page, from the top banner and ribbon, side navigation bars, and footers. This helps you customize your results, using advanced features such as image search, smart-text results, and citation counts.
3. Use the database's subject terms
Sometimes keyword searches will only get you so far, and you will need to locate what words the database uses for your topic. These words are called subject terms. You can usually locate subject terms by:
Example: You may conduct a keyword search on "African American attorneys." But Academic Search Complete uses the term "Black lawyers." The latter generates more on-target results.
Sometimes you may find a title or an abstract of an article in one place, but you may need to go to another source to locate the full text. If you find a title in Google Scholar but not the full-text, copy the title and enter into OneSearch. Use the search function "title starts with" to make sure you search for the identical source. OneSearch may result in the full-text, which you can access by using the "Find It" or "Full Text" buttons.
1. Work with us
We are here to help with search strategies, so don't hesitate to reach out to us, or to visit the reference desk at King. You can contact us by email, drop-in, chat, phone, or appointment.