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Criminal Justice: Search Tips

This libguide presents library resources for researching areas of law enforcement.


Conjuctions (aka - Boolean Operators) help broaden or narrow your subject when searching

  • And: Narrow your searcy by looking for one term AND another.  Example: "dogs and cats" - Results will have both dogs and cats
  • Or:Expand your search by looking for one term OR another  Example: "dogs or cats" - Results may have either dogs or cats
  • Not: Limit your search by looking for one term, but NOT another.  Example: "dogs not cats" - Results will have only dogs, not cats


Searching Phrases

Use double quotations marks to search for an exact phrase (search for those words when they appear together).

·         Example: “embryonic stem cell”



For specificity in your research:

Select the subject field option or enter in the following lines terms which represent a desired perspective to your main topic.  Entering additional terms will narrow your search for more specific and relevant articles.

Example: Type "community Policing" in one field with and either add "ethics" on the next field or select a term under subject/thesarus on the left column.    

Limiters allow you to narrow the resources you want to search.

Select limiters to narrow your search after centering in on your desired content.  Examples of limiters include:

·         full text (of abstracts and/or documents)

·         publication date

·         journal type (peer reviewed)

·         material type (book, article, newspaper)


Wildcard and Truncation Symbols enable you to search for variations of words

1.      Use ? (a question mark) to replace each unknown letter from a word. This symbol is useful if you are unsure of the spelling of a word.

·         Example:  Typing ne?t  will retrieve results containing the words next, neat, or nest.


2.      Enter the root of a word followed by * (an asterisk) to find all words with the same root. It can be used to find both the singular and plural forms of a word.

·         Example: Typing comput* will retrieve results containing the words computer or computing.


Keyword vs. Subject

Keyword vs. subject searching

Keyword searches will bring up articles wherever that word appears in the database (in the articles, subjects, publications, abstracts, authors, etc.).


Subject searches will bring up only articles to which a specific subject (term or phrase) has been assigned; it searches only the subject field.

·         Most databases have a subject search option and sometimes a thesaurus to help you find the right terms to use in your search.


Subject Guide

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Shawn Smith