There are several databases that are useful for finding scholarly articles in the field of sociology and political science. There are those that are subject-specific, such as SocINDEX, Race Relations Abstracts, Urban Studies Abstracts, etc. As sociology is often interdisciplinary by nature, various multidisciplinary databases can be useful, such as Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, and Opposing Viewpoints in Context.
This tutorial will focus on SocINDEX, the world's most comprehensive sociology research database. You can reach the database by going to our Database A-Z list. or under the articles tab on the Sociology Research Guide.
Once you log in to the database using your Murray State credentials, you will be presented with the search screen below. Note that SocINDEX is owned by EBSCO, meaning that the search interface looks the same and shares many similar technical features with a variety of other databases.
At this point you can begin your search. You will notice various limiters below the search boxes. Although they are useful, it is best to apply limiters on the search results page. Type your search terms into the boxes at the top utilizing Boolean operators discussed earlier in the module. By default, each box is combined using an AND operator. You can use an individual search box to type in synonyms or equivalent terms using the OR operator. EBSCO databases will sometimes suggest alternate terms used in the database as you are typing in a search box. These can be very helpful, but make sure to evaluate or edit any of these terms based on your research needs.
Let's try an example. Our sample research question is "How do non-profits help out the homeless in urban environments?" First, let's identify the key terms of our research question. We want to find articles that discuss non-profits, the homeless, and urban environments. Just by typing in "non-profit," it shows some alternate terms which we will use.
I followed the same process for the other terms and clicked the blue search button.
Let's go through a few things we can see on this page.
Occasionally you will see a clickable option for "Times Cited in this Database" in an article's listing. This will show you other articles in the database that have cited the initial article (which means they probably wrote about a similar topic and/or expanded on that research). You can also do this with Google Scholar, which will be shown later in the module.
Below is an example record page for a source found via an EBSCO database, such as Academic Search Complete or SocINDEX.
You can also perform a search using database/author-supplied subject terms and keywords. Take a look a the following item record page:
Notice how the terms are blue, indicating a link. If you click the term, it will take you to search page with a subject-search pre-filled.
The "DE" represents the word descriptor, which is an alternate term for subject term or keyword. Alternatively, you can click click "Select a Field" and select "SU Subject Terms." Like our previous keyword searches, you can add subject terms to multiple boxes, connecting them with the AND operator.
To view a list of subjects terms loaded in the database, click "Subject Terms" at the top of the page.
Note: Some EBSCO databases may use a different heading such as "Index."