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Criminal Justice Sciences

This guide is meant to point researchers in the direction of commonly-used criminal justice resources available at Illinois State University. There are also descriptions of general search strategies to use those resources.

What's On This Page

This page lists the Milner databases that collect information relevant to criminal justice sciences. Use these databases to find articles on particular research topics. If you need help using any of these databases, check out the Searching in a Database box below. For more help, you can use the How To pages of this guide or reach out to me.

List of Databases:

Searching in a Database

What are keywords?:

Keywords are search terms specific to, and descriptive of, your research question. They are not necessarily based on known terms within the database. They can be any term that relates to your research. When keyword searching, you are guessing the words you enter will match terms used in a set of articles.

Where does the database search for keywords?:*

The database searches for keywords anywhere in the article (article title, abstract, journal name, full text, etc.).

Pros and Cons:

Pros

  • Often will yield more search results
  • Can be very specific to your research question
  • User can include synonyms of each term in the search boxes to expand the results list.

Cons

  • Database only finds the term if you enter it exactly in the search box. If you enter a keyword the author doesn't specifically use, the article won't come up, even if the article is about the concept. You must include all the correct synonyms or else you will miss relevant articles. 
  • If a keyword shows up in an irrelevant article, it will still come up in the results list.
  • Without the right combination of keywords, the results list may either be large and unwieldy or filled with irrelevant results.

Example:

Original Idea: female police officers

Synonyms: "policewomen," "lady officers,"  "women in law enforcement"

 

*A demonstration of these concepts can be found on the Keywords vs. Subjects tab above.

What are subjects?:

Subject term are standardized words that are used to describe a main concepts of an article. When an article is added to a database, the database will assign subject terms to it from the database's list of subjects.

Where does the database search for subjects?:*

When a user searches using subject terms, the database only searches within the "Subject" field of the articles' records.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Results will typically be more relevant than initial keyword searches
  • Results lists will typically be shorter than initial keyword searches
  • Can be used in combination with keywords in an advanced search.

Cons:

  • Not all ideas have related subject terms
  • Not all articles will include every related subject term. Searching this way may exclude related articles

Example:

If you are searching for female police officers and search in the thesaurus, the official subject term in several databases is "Policewomen." Articles that include women officers as a main theme will use this term in their subject list.

 

*A demonstration of these concepts can be found on the Keywords vs. Subjects tab above.

USU Libraries. (2018, April 27). Subject Terms vs. Keywords [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/r1Rb52wr_as