Literature Searching or
What to do when you don’t have a
reading list
BSc Sociology
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Planning your research
Not just Google searching
Electronic Journals
Cross Searcher
Search tips
EBSCO databases e.g. IBSS (International
Bibliography of the Social Sciences)
• Other databases
• Further Help
Planning a search
Define topic, scope and keywords
Structure your search
Choose information sources
Perform your searches
Review your results
© Netskills Quality Internet Training, University of Newcastle
Plan your research: What type of
information do you need?
Journal articles, books, Government reports?
Background reading or Primary sources?
Very recent material or Historical?
English language?
UK or International?
Academic or Populist/Commercial?
Statistical Data? Our Data Librarian can help
Not ‘pure sociology’?
How do you identify information?
Can you access the required information?
Search terms
• Analyse your dissertation topic – what are the
key concepts?
• Define keywords
• List any synonyms
• ‘The effects of television violence on children’
Television/tv/adverts/dvd etc
Parental control? Peer pressure?
Crime? Psychological?
Electronic Journals
• Library Catalogue lists both print AND online journals
• Journals portal for electronic only
• Search by journal title, by keyword in a journal
title, by subject grouping or specific publisher
• Some titles may be available via more than one
service, depending on the year required. Content can
be restricted to particular years
• Use the portal to search for words in the title of the
journal, but not of the individual articles
• Publishers may only list their own titles not those of
rival publishers so you could miss key information
Won’t Google give me everything?
Much medical & scientific information is freely available but other
areas lag behind
There is no quality standards or peer review
Information can be moved or removed without warning
Information can be wrong, out of date and biased
Information overload can soon occur
Doesn’t show the whole picture of books and journals
Can point to commercial versions of databases you can’t use-but
we have access to them via LSE
Won’t include information from databases such as IBSS
»»»»» You may be missing out on crucial information
Google Scholar
Searches scholarly papers
Material more likely to be good quality
Not as full as subscription databases
Advanced search options not as complex as
subscription databases
• Frustrating as may link to articles requiring a
• No resource list so you don’t know what’s
included-only certain publishers are available
»»»You still may be missing out on crucial
Cross Searcher
• Requires LSE username & Password
• Searches up to 50 databases simultaneously
• Helps identify key databases, journals,
• Simple search works best-then use options
to refine
• Not everything is available due to publisher
• Need complex searches or citation
searching-use databases individually
• Access individual databases via library
catalogue or Subject guides
Search tips for individual databases
AND &, + – combines terms. Narrows results
OR , – locates results containing either of the
terms. Use ‘or’ for synonyms. Useful for US/UK
Spellings. Broadens results
NOT – excludes terms. Discards results that contain your excluded
term (even if the results contain your chosen search term)
Phrases – enclose in quotation marks “third way”
Proximity – WITH, SAME – locates results in same sentence or
Truncation – replaces multiple characters at the end of a word e.g.
pension*– finds pensioner, pensions, pensioned
Wild card – replaces a single character organi?ation – locates either
e.g. wom?n finds woman and women
wom* finds both along with womb, wombat, womble etc.
Check help pages for the correct symbol. Can be * ! + $
Subject headings & Thesauri e.g. MeSH
IBSS: International Bibliography
of the Social Sciences
• Premium Social Sciences Index- references journal
articles, books, chapters and book reviews.
• Links to full text articles via Article Finder
• Based at LSE so journals more likely to be in stock
• Good foreign language coverage
• Results can be imported into Endnote
• Searches can be saved to rerun at a later date
• Access: Catalogue or Subject pages
• Date range: 1951• Updated Weekly
ISI Citation Indices via the Web of
• Science, Social Science & Arts and Humanities
• Abstracts and references to journal articles and book
• Links to full text articles via Article Finder
• Enables citation searching in addition to searching by
• Results can be exported into Endnote
• Searches can be saved to rerun at a later date
• Also Available the ISI Conference Proceedings
database for Science and Technology only
• Access: Cross Searcher, Catalogue
Newspaper articles
• Nexis UK
UK National
UK Local
Text only-no images
• Times Digital archive 1785-1985
• Scanned newspapers
• Search by date, keyword, article type
• British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale
• UK National & Regional
• International
• Microfilm or CDROM-will contain images
Electronic Resources recap
• Cross Searcher-search several databases together
• Library Catalogue-look for individual names of
• Subject pages-access and further information
• Useful Free resources via Delicious
Use resources to identify what has been published-not
just what is at LSE
• Some databases are provided by the same publisher
so you can do a mini cross search
Use the Article Finder button to search for full text
Still undecided on your topic?
• Brainstorming:
• List all the keywords which could describe your topic
• Identify synonyms & alternative spellings
• Formulate a ‘research question’
Are they any key papers already published?
Any key authors?
Hot topic or dead duck?
Run a quick search in Cross Searcher to scope
Once you’ve found materialKeep track of it
• Note full information at point of use
Nothing worse than trying to identify material months
Note ALL details not just author/title
Collect this information once and you will not need to do so
• Note your search strategies so as to rerun at a
later date
• Use the My Favourites option on the catalogue to
store LSE titles
• Helps avoid plagiarism
• Consider using Endnote
• Use Delicious to keep track of web pages
Further Help
• Sociology Guide
• Bioscience & Health guide
• Workshops
• Students Companion & Researchers Companion in
• 1-2-1 or group sessions can be arranged

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