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CRJ 401 -- Seminar in Criminal Justice

Journal Searching Tips

Journal Articles

Since many of your topics are interdisciplinary, besides using the Criminal Justice Guide, make sure you try using other guides found on the “Research Guides" page, including those for Sociology, Psychology, Education, Communication Studies, Computer and Information Science, Business, or Counseling and Psychological Services. Other databases and guides may also be applicable.

Tips on Searching for Journal Articles:

  1. Not all databases are full text.  Some provide indexing and an abstract (a short summary of an article), but many do provide the complete text of an article online. ► A word of caution:  don’t limit yourself to just those databases with full text.  You could be missing some key articles on your topic by doing that.

  1. Use Boolean Operators (AND/OR/NOT) to broaden or narrow your search. 

      AND - will narrow a search.  All search terms must appear in a record

OR -  will broaden a search.  Either or both terms may appear

NOT - will narrow a search.  The term following “not” won’t appear in a record.

Other search tips:

  • Use quotes “   “  to keep 2 or more words together as a phrase (“juvenile delinquent”)
  • Use the asterisk * to find alternate endings to words (teen* would retrieve teen, teens, teenager, teenagers, etc.)
  • Put synonyms/similar words in parentheses, and link together with the word ‘or.’ (teen or youth or adolescent or juvenile)

  1. When you locate a good article, look at the descriptors or subject headings

That’s the special vocabulary used to describe the essence of an article. Build your search vocabulary by keeping track of these terms and writing them down! Use those words listed to locate other articles on the same topic. 

You may also want to think of similar or alternate words, phrases or synonyms for your topic

        4.  Scholarly vs. Popular

For this assignment (and probably many others), you may need to find and use scholarly journal articles on your topic.  So what does “scholarly” mean?  Generally, it means that something has been written by scholars for scholars, the real experts, researchers or practitioners in a field.  Scholarly journal articles and books will present the latest research on a topic.   Scholarly work may also be referred to as “Peer Reviewed” or “Refereed.”   ►Tip:  Most databases have a limiter box you can click on to search for “Scholarly,” “Peer Reviewed,” or “Refereed” journals.  Be sure you click on it before searching.◄

5.    To check if the library owns a journal either online or in print format, click on the Full Text Finder icon within a record.

6.     If Penfield Library doesn’t own a journal article or book you need, you may obtain it from another

library using the Interlibrary Loan service (Illiad).  You must register with Illiad first (a one-time only registration) before you can use interlibrary loan.  Click on the Interlibrary Loan link from the Library’s homepage to register on Illiad.

7.  Remember: all of our journal databases and both catalogs can be accessed

and searched from off campus by logging in with your SUNY Oswego LakerNet username and password.

Recommended Multidisciplinary Databases

Recommended Specialized Databases

Westlaw Searching Tips

Some tips to remember when using Westlaw :

  • In Westlaw, watch out for the flags next to a citation.  Generally, they indicate negative treatment or history of a case.  A yellow flag indicates “use with caution”.   Something about the case has not been resolved yet.  A case may be listed as “distinguished” from another case.  A red flag indicates that you should stop – do not use this case.  The case may have been overruled, reversed, or superseded by another case.  Click on the flags to see what the negative treatment was. (Was it reversed? Criticized? Distinguished? Etc.)
  • Westlaw will log you off after a period  of inactivity, and you won’t know it.  If you’re engrossed in reading something, and attempt to return to the search results list, if you’ve been “inactive” for too long, you will not be able to return to the list.  Instead, Westlaw will take you to a Westlaw login screen, and ask for your Westlaw account number, which we do not have.  You’ll need to re- enter the database from the link on the subject guide.
  • If you’re using Law Journals or Law Reviews in Westlaw, you need to click the link that says Secondary Sources, then click the link for Law Reviews & Journals.  
  • The Popular Name Table (to locate acts of Congress by their popular/well known names) is also available through Westlaw.  To find it, do the following:
    • In Westlaw, click on the link for Statutes & Court Rules
    • Click the link for United States Code Annotated (USCA)
    • On the right had side, click the link for USCA Popular Name Table

 Remember: in Westlaw, you must indicate where you want the database to search.  Do you want to search for cases?  If so, do you want federal or state court cases?  Statutes?  If so, do you want federal or state laws?  Regulatory codes?  If so, do you want federal or state regulations? Click the appropriate tab in the Browse search box.

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