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Library Research Guides

SW 522 - Basic Social Work Research

Quotation Marks

Some databases do not assume that two words next to each other represents a phrase. Instead, they treat them as separate terms with the idea of "and" between them. You can narrow your search by enclosing a phrase or group of words with quotation marks.

  • "child abuse" - Searches for the times when these two words are next to each other in this exact order.
  • child abuse [without quotation marks] - Searches for these two word, whether or not they happen to appear together. You could get an article in your list of results which is about children abusing their parents, for example. This is a broader search and helpful if you are not finding what you need searching a term as a phrase.

Truncation and Wildcards

Truncation means you include a special character at the end of your search term which will broaden your search to include any word that starts with that group of letters.

flavor* = Finds not only the word flavor but also  flavored, flavorful, flavoring, etc.

child* = Finds the word child, along with childhood, children, etc.


Using a Wildcard in your search means you can insert a symbol anywhere in a search term not just at the end, like the example above.

wom?n = Finds both women and woman

The asterisk and question mark are commonly used as wildcards, but some databases may use different symbols. Check the help pages in each database for additional information if the search does not seem to be producing what you need.

Follow the Citations

It is easy to follow reference citations from an article to get older research on the same or similar topics. Some databases also allow you to see which articles have cited an article forward. For example you may have found an excellent article in the database Social Services Abstracts from the year 2002. If other articles since 2002 have studied this same article and cited it in their own papers Social Services Abstracts will include a link to these articles so you can follow the research forward from 2002.

Finding Full-Text Articles

You can choose to only search for full-text versions of articles in many databases, such as ProQuest or PsycINFO but don't limit yourself! There is another way to see if the library has your article in a full-text, online version.

MGetIt is a tool provided by the University Library that allows library databases to "talk to each other" in order to find on-line versions of articles. If you find an article citation listed in ProQuest, for example but don't see a full-text version of the article, look for an MGet It icon, like the one above. Clicking on this icon will show you if the library has the article available online from a database other than ProQuest. Sometimes there may be several links to on-line version available.



Here are two citations from ProQuest. The first one has an MGetIt icon because full-text is not available from ProQuest. The second citation has full-text available and so does not have this icon.