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Professor Hohl - Soc. 101 - Introduction to Sociology: Search Strategies

TIP! Use Subject Headings to Guide Your Term Selection

Example of Subject Headings in the Catalog











Example of Subject Headings in a Database



Search Strategies

Search Strategies: using keywords, truncation, and synonyms:

Relevant keywords are necessary for effective research.  Use your thesis statement to help you select useful keywords. 

You can start by taking keywords from your thesis statement, for example:

                  My Research Questions/Statements:


Social Conflict Theory:

By applying the conflict perspective to incidents of NFL players protesting by "taking the knee" during the national anthem, we can discuss the continuing facial inequality and power imbalance in our society's power structures (police, professional football as a business).

Symbolic Interactionism:

The NFL players symbolic protest during the national anthem is an effective way to draw attention symbolically to political and human rights abuses in our country.



But don't stop there! Research is a process of trial and error, and often you won't get the results you want on your first attempts. There are two important ways to develop additional keywords that you should know about:

1. Use synonyms and related concepts: think of other words that mean the same or similar things as the words in your question. For example, the following words might be used:

home schooling, homeschooling, parent involvement in education, unschooling, de-schooling, Christian fundamentalists (evangelical Protestantism), Military families, religious education, anti-statism, anti-government, anarchy, homesteading, public education, K-12, and so on . . . 

2. Use truncation: the computer will locate alternative endings for a word when you place an asterisk -- the * symbol (shift eight on the keyboard) -- at end of the root of a word. For example, if I use child* the computer will search child AND children.

3. Use AND, OR, NOT

NFL players AND protest

Colin Kaepernick OR NFL players

Fundamentalists NOT Islam

When searching, try different combinations of keywords. If you get too many results (for example, in a Google search), add more words to your search; if you get too few results (for example, when searching for books), use fewer keywords.

Now you're ready to begin your research.