Seminar in Global Studies: Critical Approaches to Equity and Inclusion in Multicultural Societies

Course #: GS400

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Important general things to know

  • Enter similar terms or phrases separately into a database; don't type in a question - you'll limit your results
  • Use Omni primarily for books
  • Omni IS case sensitive = use AND, OR, NOT to connect your search terms
    • other databases are not case sensitive

Constructing a search string

Operators and Connectors

  • Use connectors (Boolean operators) to combine terms
  • Watch our video Better Searching using AND, OR NOT
    • AND = use between search terms to retrieve ALL the words in each record
      • e.g. credential AND immigrant = retrieves both terms; fewer results, but more relevant
    • OR = use to search related terms/synonyms on the same topic
      • credential OR immigrant = retrieves either term; more results, probably less relevant
    • NOT = excludes words or phrases, but should be used judiciously
      • (credential AND immigrant) NOT
    • " " = phrase search, exact words in a particular order
    • * = truncation, searches for different forms of a word (variant spellings)
    • ? = wildcard, searches for variant spellings of one letter
      • colo?r retrieves color, colour
      • immigra* retrieves immigrant, immigrate, immigration
    • ( ) combine terms within brackets to search similar terms or phrases
      • ("climate change" OR "global warming" or "greenhouse effect")

Most databases:

  • Use connectors (boolean operators) to combine terms
  • Use "controlled vocabulary" or subject terms
    • you can find subject terms by browsing abstracts of your initial results, or subjects usually displayed at the left side of the search results page
  • Allow you to narrow or limit results
  • Allow you to combine and save searches
  • Have good "Help" resources on Boolean/Advanced searching; good to check these out before you start; they have advance features not discussed in detail in class.

Search string example

Question: What is the impact of climate change on the fishing industry of the Great Lakes?

Concept 1: climate change

Concept 2: geographic location = Great Lakes

Concept 3: fishing

Concept 4: impact

Example search string using concepts:

1. ("climate change" OR "global warming" or "greenhouse effect")


2. ("Great Lakes" OR "Lake Superior" OR "Lake Huron" OR "Lake Erie" OR "Lake Ontario" OR "Georgian Bay" OR Lake St. Clair")




4. (impact* or effect*)

How to tell if a journal is scholarly/peer-reviewed/refereed?

  • Many databases, e.g. ProQuest; EBSCO, allow limit to peer-reviewed articles by check box
  • Other databases, e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, Geobase, do not have peer-reviewed check box limiter
    • In this case, you should limit results to "Articles" on the left side menu; this usually removes non-peer-reviewed materials such as conference proceedings, chapters, book reviews, opinion articles, and letters to the editor
  • If in doubt whether an article is from a peer-reviewed journal
    1. Use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory - do a title search and look for the "referee" symbol
    2. Visit the web site of the journal, check their "About" section to determine if it is peer-reviewed, and what the process is

Additional "Hidden Treasures"

To help you in getting background material or "key articles" on your topic

Review articles

  • Articles written by experts that are a review of literature in a certain area
  • Should be peer-reviewed, not "white papers" or "discussion papers"
  • In a research database, use the following terms:"critical review" OR "critical review of the literature" OR "critical literature review" OR "integrated review" OR "review article" OR "review of the literature" OR "systematic review" OR "synthesis review" OR "thematic review" plus the concept you're searching on

Dissertations and Theses

Managing Citations