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Bethel Libraries

Sociology: Search Tips

Finding Theoretical Articles

Include theor* as one your search terms. It will find theory, theories, theoretical.

Search Tricks


  • Brainstorm a variety of keywords (poverty, low-income, income level, social class)
  • Search by keywords, not sentences (poverty and "secondary education" and achievement instead of effect of poverty on high school students)

And, Or

  • Connect keywords with and (poverty and education and achievement)
  • Use or to search synonyms (poverty or low-income and education)

Asterisk  *

  • Use * to search a root word that could have multiple endings (school* searches for school, schools, schooling)


  • Use quotes to search for a phrase ("social inequality")

Finding Quanitative or Qualitative Research

Many abstracts list the type of data collected so try using quanitative or qualitative as one your search terms.

Like this: women and social capital and quanitative

Searching by Subject

Most databases have a set of keywords that are used to associate keywords with articles focusing on those topics. They are usually called subjects, subject headings, or descriptors.

For example, when searching women and social capital in Sociological Abstracts you'll see the descriptors females and cultural capital. You can then do another search using those keywords to find more information on your topic.

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