Methods in Global Studies

Course #: GS202

Advanced Search Techniques for Research Methods

Step 1: Think about your research question and specific search terms

What is the effect of property rights for women on poverty rates in southern Africa?

Concept map for search strategy
Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4
Property rights Women Poverty Botswana
Land ownership Female Poor Malawi
Property ownership Gender Income poverty Mozambique
Land rights Economic development Zimbabwe
Development Africa (?)
Step 2: Select out an appropriate database and try some preliminary searches

Go to the Library Subject Guides page and select an appropriate Subject to guide your initial search

http://library.wlu.ca/research-materials/databases

  • Start with Global Studies; ProQuest, EBSCO, and Web of Science are 3 premier dbs to consult
  • Start with some simple searches using keywords as above; look at special subject terms the authors use, found in the abstract
  • Avoid typing in questions; this will result in 0 hits in specialized databases
  • Limit results to only: peer-reviewed, articles
Step 3: Use Boolean operators AND/OR (NOT) to broaden or narrow your search

(women OR Female) AND ("Property rights" OR "Land ownership") AND (Botswana OR Malawi)

  • " " searches for exact phrases
  • * at the end of a word retrieves variations of the search term; farm = farms, farmer, farming
  • ? - Wildcard, retrieves single variant spellings: wom?n = woman, women
  • Getting great results: narrowing your search (video 3:02)
Step 4: Look for existing literature reviews on your topic
  • Find a few decent articles and consult the "Literature Review" section
  • Try a search with terms such as "review of the literature" OR "literature review" OR "review essay" OR "critical review" OR review
  • Broaden the scope of your search to include books; they often have good review chapters
Step 5: Finding "classic" or landmark studies
  • Follow the citation trail in articles you find useful; what author(s) are referred to heavily?
  • Consult the Web of Science database to find highly cited articles by using the Times Cited feature; these will all be from peer-reviewed, scholarly sources
  • Consult a scholarly Companion, Handbook, or Manual for your topic, e.g. The Companion to Development Studies, Routledge, 2014.
  • Use Google Scholar, Cited by feature
Step 6: Format your citations for the bibliography in APA style

Research workshops (sign up for one)