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Library Research Guides

Soc 497: Honors Colloquium in Sociology

Research guide for honors students in Sociology

Selecting and entering your search terms

Tips for selecting search terms:

  • Break down your topic into its component concepts. 
    • Example: What is the effect of birth order on girls' success in school?  
    • Three concepts: birth order, girls, success in school
  • For each concept, write down possible synonyms as well as broader or narrower terms.  Also, check the database's thesaurus to see if there is an "official" term or terms that describe that concept.
Your concept Synonyms and related terms 
(search in AB)
Official thesaurus terms
(search in SU)
Broader and narrower terms
(search in AB if other searches
are unsucessful)
birth order first born, oldest child, youngest child, middle child birth order birth spacing
girls young women, sisters, daughters females, children
success in school academic achievement, honor roll, grade point average academic achievement, educational attainment  achievement, success

  • Try several synonyms, connected with OR, to find the maximum number of articles on your topic.  Each concept gets its own line.  Use quotes around phrases.

Other tips

  • Find an article you like, and note its subject headings or descriptors.  You can run a new search using these terms or phrases for more robust results.
  • If you have a term with several possible endings, use an asterisk to stand for the different endings. (Example: child* = child, children, childhood, etc.)
  • If you are getting too many results, try searching for your terms in the Title, TI=,  Abstract, AB=, or Descriptors, DE= fields instead of the default.