Skip to main content

SOCY 122: Introduction to Academic Library Research

Course guide library research tutorial


The default search is all fields (keyword). This means you can enter your search terms in the boxes provided and the database will retrieve all citations that have your search terms anywhere in the record (title, author, abstract, journal title, subjects etc.). To execute more specific searches, and retrieve more relevant results, consider limiting your search to Abstract.

Enter your topic keywords in the search boxes. For example, if I were looking for articles on the income gap between men and women, my keywords to begin with could be: "pay gap" OR "income gap" AND gender OR women

sample search

Adjust the default setting from Anywhere to Abstract, which will return results that are more on topic because your search words must appear in the abstract (or summary) of the item, as opposed to anywhere in the item record. Limit your search results to peer reviewed (scholarly), apply a publication date range limit, restrict your source type to scholarly journals and so forth.  If you are searching for scholarly journal articles (which is often what is required in your coursework) it is very convenient to be able to restrict your search results to only the type of research that you want to examine. Once you have applied the search options, click the Search button.

Viewing Results

The database will return a list of citations that match your search terms:

sociological abstracts search results screen

Article Record

When you locate a citation that looks relevant to your topic, click on the Preview document link (or the title of the article) to read the abstract (summary) of the article.

If the article interests you, you can click on the link to the Abstract/Details to learn more about the article and the source it was published in. The subject terms are very useful - they provide a succinct snapshot of what the article is about and you can use the subject terms in new searches. 

From Abstract (summary) view you can also email/save/print the selected search result. Clicking the Cite link will provide you with an option to create an ASA style citation for the article. As with all databases that create citations in your specified style, always consult an official style guide to confirm the accuracy of your citations.

To access the full text of the article if it is not in the database, click on the Get it @ Queen's button, which will trigger a search across the library's electronic subscriptions and print holdings to determine if you have access to the article:

get it at queen's

Many, but not all, Library databases have the Get It! service. If you don't see a link to the full text (in either HTML or PDF), and there isn't a Get It! button, search QCAT for the name of the journal to determine if Queen's owns a copy.

Narrow Results

If you didn't apply any search limits (such as to peer reviewed) on the Advanced Search screen when you initiated your search, you can filter your results using the Narrow results by facets to the left of your search results: