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Preparing to Search

1. Choose a database

Your research topic will determine which database you should use. Sometimes, you may want to search a few databases to make sure you are finding all of the relevant articles.

For Sociology, I would recommend starting with Sociological Abstracts and Scopus.

2. Choose your keywords

Think about what your research topic is or what question you are trying to answer.
For instance, if you are wanting to learn about the health disparities of Latino/a immigrants, here is what your keywords could be:

"Health disparit*"






When you put keywords in quotes " ", it tells the database that you want them to be searched as a phrase.

When you put an asterick * at the end of a word, it tells the database to search all alternate endings after the asterick. For instance, if you search immigra* the database will search immigration, immigrant, immigrants. If you search latin*, it will search latino, latina, latinas, latinos, latinx.


3. Combine your keywords in the database

The database will usually give you a few boxes to enter your keywords. Enter your keywords so that your main topics are combined with AND.


This could look like this:


Or it could look like this:



4. Choose Peer Reviewed

By checking the Peer Reviewed box, the database will show you results from scholarly, academic journals.

5. Sort your results by relevance

Most databases will show you the most recent articles first. Try sorting your results by RELEVANCE. This will sometimes get you to the articles that you are interested in quicker.

Looking through your Results

Read over the abstract (summary) of the article to see if it is useful for your research topic. You can view the abstract by clicking Abstract/Details or by clicking the article title.



This is what you will see on the next page:

2. Download the article

Find the PDF or FIND TEXT links on the page. Most times it will link you to our library's journals and you can download the full article. Sometimes, it will not find the journal. If this happens, ask your professor or Donna, your librarian (

Ways to get fewer articles

Add another concept to your search

If you are getting too many articles, you may want to add another concept to your search in order to narrow your results down.


For instance, when we search for health disparities of latino/a/x immigrants, we get 1,797 articles. If we add one more concept like, "food insecurity" to our search, we get 140 articles.





Ways to get more articles

References, Cited By or Suggested Sources

Look at References, Cited by, or Suggested Sources for ideas of other articles that are similar to the one you are looking at.


References is the reference list or bibliography that is at the end of that article.

Cited by are the articles that have used that article in its reference list.

Suggested Sources are articles recommended by the database using an algorithm.