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Rural Sociology

Tips, techniques & links to help you find answers for your research papers & projects

Database Search Tips


TOP TEN SEARCH TIPS   -- applicable in almost all databases

All databases, including Google, are based on what is called "Boolean logic," using the connectors AND,  OR,  and to a much lesser extent, NOT.   If you understand what a database is doing behind the scenes, it will help you devise a better search to find what you need. 

Click here to see a YouTube video that illustrates Boolean logic.


-Break your research question into essential key words and connect with AND,  e.g., "What is the impact of a CAFO on family farms?”    becomes your search statement of      CAFO AND family farms 

 -Brainstorm synonyms and connect with OR, e.g., family farms OR small farms

 -Don’t get stuck on one term if there are other ways of expressing it.


 -Think about the best databases to use, based on the focus of your research.  Besides Rural Sociology, maybe Agriculture, Environmental Studies, Women's & Gender Studies or Economics would be useful database categories to search. 


-Use wild card/ truncation symbol (*) to get plurals and variant endings, e.g.,  method*  will find method, methods, methodology, methodologies, methodological   


-Use “Advanced Search  for more control and flexibility.   


 - Limit to the abstract to help eliminate irrelevant results.


-Put quotes around a term that is a phrase to keep the words together, e.g. “diffusion of innovation”  “sustainable development”


-If applicable, limit your search to “Academic Journals” or “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals”


-When you find a good article, always look at the works cited or reference list at the end to help identify other useful articles and books on the same topic.