Most all databases have similar search functionalities.
An example of using these search functions in Sociological Abstracts:
A few tips on literature searching from fellow Sociology students:
Literature review articles can be very helpful in providing background information for your research.
In order to find these articles quickly, add "Literature Review" OR "Review of the Literature" as a title field search in the database.
Or, if available, select the research methodology limit for "literature review".
Part of deciding where to search is recognizing the differences between tools. The search scopes of Google Scholar, Web of Science, and a disciplinary database are fairly different, but also have some overlap.
Google Scholar searches across resources from all disciplines/subject areas:
Web of Science searches citations of high impact journals in the field (not every journal in the feld, so Web of Science is less comprehensive in regards to discipline).
A Disciplinary Database, such as Sociological Abstracts, searches a defined set of resources, all focused in that field of research, usually this includes:
Ask yourself as you search: Are most of your hits from Sociology journals? Or another field, such as Psychology? Turn to the primary database of the field where the research is happening. A few examples are:
|Psychology (including Organizational)||PsycINFO|
|Gender||Gender Studies Database|
|Urban Studies||Urban Studies, Sage Full Text|
|Public Health/Health Sciences||PubMed|
Also considering using multidisciplinary databases like Web of Science, Google Scholar, and JSTOR. Web of Science is highly recommended.
It can be difficult to keep up with all the new information that might be relevant to us. One way to make it easier is using search alerts. These are simply tools that send you information on an ongoing basis after you have subscribed to them. Most every database has this functionality available; you usually just need to create an account on the database platform.
By setting up alerts you don't have to remember to check if a journal has published a new issue, you will be notified (almost always via email). You can also use search alerts to find if there are any new articles that match your search terms.
Google Scholar also offers search alerts.
This guide page was created in collaboration with Sociology graduate students in SOC 594, Spring 2015:
Sasha Bassett, Adam Bond, Katrien Cokeley, Emma Deppa, Lauren Ferguson, Aaron Levine, Joyce McNair, Madeline O'Neil, Nathan Rochester, Shah Smith, Corrie Stocking.