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Sociology 15 (Beattie)

Sociological Research Methods

Phrase Searching

Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase.

  • "higher education"
  • "academic achievement"
  • "substance abuse"



Use a symbol (* is the most common) to look for variant endings of a word

  • fratern* will search for fraternity, fraternities fraternal, etc.
  • can also use as a wildcard e.g. In Proquest freshm?n will search for freshman and freshmen

Combine Strategies

Combine search strategies

Combine search strategies for more efficient searching

  • "social network*"will search social network, social networks, social networking etc

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators are words you can use between your search terms to either broaden or limit your search.

1. Use OR to broaden your search and to join SIMILAR terms.

  • Example: "academic achievement" OR "academic excellence"

2. Use AND to narrow your search and join DISSIMILAR.

  • Example:  "academic achievement" AND motivation

3. Use NOT to narrow your search.  This will omit items with that term.

  • Example:  "(academic achievement" AND motivation) NOT elementary


Field Searching

If results are too large or seem irrelevant, you can limit one or more search terms to a specific field.  For example, you can choose to search for important terms in the Title field. 

fielded searching

Proximity Searching in ProQuest

Proximity - Same order

Use pre/X

e.g. parent* pre/2 educational

This would bring up an article with no more than two words between parent* and educational (in this order) e.g. "Parent practices and educational achievement" OR "Parents on Educational Attainment" OR "Parental Values, Educational Attainment" etc.

Proximity - Any order

Use w/X

e.g. parent* w/3 educational

This would bring up an article with no more than three words between parent* and educational (in any order)  e.g. "Educational practices of parents" OR "Parents value motivation and education" OR "Educational attainments of Latino parents"


Use ?

e.g. freshm?m to search for freshman and freshmen

Proximity Searching in EBSCO

Example: in Education Source (EBSCO)

Use W#

"self reflection" W3 sociology (within 3 words & in order)

Use N#

"self reflection" N2 bias (near, any order)