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POLS 212: Legislative Research: Searching

OPEN-ACCESS JOURNALS

Open Access (OA) Publishing is free and allows access to anyone. This means research is not hidden behind and expensive pay wall. Keep in mind that not every Open Access Journal is on the up and up. There are scams and shoddy research/reviews that get published in some OA journals. But there are ways for you to evaluate those OA journals.

Developing Search Terms

The first step in picking a topic is to brainstorm by asking yourself a few questions.  What do you already know about this topic from your course readings?  Are there similar ideas that you might want to explore?  What are the key concepts that you're interested in pursuing?

Once you've spent a bit of time answering these questions, you can take the concepts you've identified and use the keywords and phrases to start searching for information.  Keep in mind that you'll need to build a base of knowledge before you can write effectively.

Database Search Strategies

Once you've identified the keywords and phrases for your topic, you can start to search the databases for articles on that topic. For example, if you want to write about how women won the right to vote in the United States turn your topic into a keyword search like this:

Search One: (Search with keywords connected by “and”):
women and vote and United States

Search Two: (Truncate some of the keywords using *):
women and vote* and United States

Search Three: (Add alternate words into the search with “(or)”):
(women or female) and (vote* or suffrag*) and (United States or America*)

Truncate keywords where applicable.  Truncation uses the asterisk (*) to end a word at its core, allowing you to retrieve many more documents containing variations of the search term.  Truncation can also be used to find the singular and plural forms of a term.  Example: educat* will find educate, educates, education, educators, educating and more.

 Vote*

 Suffrag*

 America*

 

Will Find:

 

 Vote
 Votes
 Voter
 Voters

 Suffrage
 Suffragette
 Suffragettes
 
 

 America
 American
 Americans
 America's
 

Finding Full Text

How to find the Full Text of articles

Search results list:

 

In detailed record (once you click on the article title in the search results list):

 

If you click a green Find Full-Text button, one of three things can happen. 

1) It will link to the article and you're all set!

2) It will link to a website, and you will need to search for the article there

3) Simmons doesn't have access, so you'll see the second screenshot with an option to search via Google Scholar, or request from another library (Interlibrary Loan)