Sociology: Sociological Abstracts & SocINDEX

Core Sociology Databases

Searching Databases

Search Terms

subject heading list in a database

  • Brainstorm a list of possible search terms related to your topic first.
  • One feature specific to disciplinary databases is subject headings. 
  • Subject headings are the official term that database uses for a given topic or population. Make note of subject headings related to your search, and revise your search terms making use of these to find relevant literature. 
  • Be flexible and revise your searches as needed. It's helpful to write down what terms you've used, or save your search history. 

Searching Tips

Most all databases have similar search functionalities. 

  • Quotation marks searches the database for those words together as a term; for example, "social identity".
  • An asterisk (*) searches the database for that word plus any variants of the root word. This is called truncation; an example is using the search term work* will provide results that include work OR worker OR workplace, OR worksite. You can also use this for the beginning of the term; *camp will search for camp OR encampment
  • Use the OR search fields to search for synonyms; for example, consider searching for discrimination OR bullying OR harassment

An example of using these search functions in Sociological Abstracts: 

tips for searching sociological abstracts

Revising your Search

When starting out on your search, it's important to review your results and identify ways that you could improve upon your search. Revising your search may include: 

  • if you are getting too many results, identify a more specific aspect of your topic that interests you, and use this more specific term in your new search
  • if you are getting too few results, you might need to broaden your search terms. 

Another way to revise your search is to utilize the language of the database. Subject headings are terms assigned to each citation in the database to capture what it's about, no matter what particular words the author might have use. For example, the article: 


*Low Income Groups;
*Political Action;
*Political Participation;
*Working Class;
*Urban Population;
In order to find more articles similar to this one, you can revise your search using the subject headings that of most interest to you. 

Find it @ PSU

Our article databases are enabled with a Find It @ PSU green button which connects you from the database you are searching to the holdings of specific articles in our Library.

If the article citation in your search results does not include a link to the full text PDF file, use the green Find It @ PSU button to check online or print availability via the Library catalog.

If the PSU Library does not hold the article online, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan & Article Delivery.

Find it at P S U link


full text link in library catalog