Methods in Global Studies

Course Number: GS202

Subject: Global Studies

Advanced Search Techniques

Below, you'll find a number of resources that will help you with the Research Proposal Assignment.

  • The research process is broken out below into 6 steps below, with examples of search strategies written out for you.
  • You can use these search strategies to navigate through multiple databases for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles.
  • There is a video demonstration below using the ProQuest database.

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

  • Developing a research question (video 5:07)
  • see also Booth, Wayne C. et al. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    • 2016 ed. (most recent) available in the Reserve section, 2nd floor, 3 hour loan - Q180.55.M4 B66 2016
    • 2008 ed. Online ebook edition
    • see chapter 3: From Topics to Questions, and chapter 4: From Questions to a Problem

Example research question: 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

  • 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