Literature Reviews for Public Affairs and Policy: Finding Sources in Databases

Designed as a guide for students in the PAP PhD program.

Articles, Reports, and Books in Databases

Once you have turned your research question into a search phrase (see "getting started" tab), start looking in subject databases. Unlike general databases like GoogleScholar or JSTOR, these databases specifically tailored to your research field. The results will be limited, but the articles are much more likely to be relevant. Examples:

GoogleScholar (General)

Main Library Search Database (General)

PAIS (Specific)

Public Affairs Index (Specific)

Useful Subject Databases

Boolean Searching (AND OR NOT)

Be sure to use Caps for AND, OR, NOT when searching.

AND - searches for books and articles containing both terms. Example: "Social Media" AND Participation

OR - searches for one of the words. Example: "Social Media"  or  Twitter

NOT - exclude a term. Example:  

Parenthetical notes () - excellent for OR or NOT searches. 
Example: (Canadian OR Canada) AND Social Media"= search for Canadian or Canada with Social Media.
Example: ( "Social Media"  NOT "Myspace") AND Politics = search for politics in social media, excluding Myspace.

Quotation Marks ""- Links words together in the search. Works best for phrases or proper names.
Example: "political participation"
Example: "Social Media"
Warning: You might exclude results. A search for "Canadian Politics" may exclude items about politics in Canada that don't use that phrase.

Asterisk * - Allows you to search several word endings at once, without using OR.
Example: will give you results for Canada, Canadian, Canadians.
Example: Particip* will give you results for participation, participants, participating. 
Warning: You may get unexpected results. Canad* will also include Canadair  and Canadaspis