Identify the key ideas for your topic
These words will form the basis of your search. To do an effective search, consider what words a variety of authors writing about your topic might use.
You will find information more effectively by asking the following four questions about your key search words:-
What synonyms or related words might usefully be included in my search? e.g. offender/prisoner race/ethnicity women/female juvenile/youth/adolescent
What about search words with variant endings?
This is important for finding both the singular and plural of search words. In most databases you can use an asterisk at the end of the root word to find other endings, e.g.victim* will find victim, victims, victimology. If in doubt, check the help screen of the database for the correct symbol to use.
What about search words with different spellings?
This is important when searching international sources. You will need to incorporate both British and American spellings, e.g. behavior/behaviour. Sometimes you can use a wildcard in the middle of a word to replace a character e.g. behavio*r to find both British and American spelling.
How do I connect my search words?
Use either AND, OR or NOT to connect your search words:
AND - searches for information that contains all of the search terms e.g. crime AND youth
OR - searches for information containing either term (use for synonyms) e.g. domestic violence or family violence
NOT - excludes a phrase e.g. child abuse NOT sexual abuse - use sparingly otherwise you might omit articles that could be relevant.
If you need to use more than one connector in your search, you will need to put brackets around words connected with OR, e.g. youth and (crime or violence)
More information about connecting search words
Experiment with combinations of search words to find the ones that retrieve the best information for your topic.
Use dictionaries, encyclopaedias and course recommended readings to find definitions and background information.
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Search the UC Library catalogue to find books on your topic
Recommended Reading may be in the High Demand collection.
Journals publish the latest academic research on a topic. Find journal articles by using the recommended databases for Criminal Justice. Read more on:
MultiSearch lets you quickly search across a range of the Library’s resources in one place, including books and journal articles.
Watch a video on how to search MultiSearch.
If you need help searching databases to find journal literature, please contact Kerry Gilmour, Subject Librarian for Criminal Justice.
The Web has a lot of information, but not all of it is reliable or appropriate for academic research. Government web sites can be particularly useful to locate reports, statistics and policy information.
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Read out more about evaluating information.