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SOCC31: Practicum in Quantitative Research Methods

Fall 2023 - Prof Ann Mullen

Recommended Article Databases

Begin your search for peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles in the following recommended databases.

No one database has everything. Search multiple databases from the list below to find enough relevant articles on your topic. To find more databases from the library select Subjects A-Z on the library website and choose the subject(s) most relevant to your topic

Writing Effective Search Strategies

Before you begin, read your research question/assignment. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your instructor or TA before you begin your research.

  Why? How? Example
Step 1: Identify key concepts Key concepts from your research question are the most effective search terms to quickly locate relevant sources. Underline key nouns from your research question.

What are the challenges that immigrants to the Greater Toronto Area face in the housing market?

Step 2: Identify alternative search terms To find everything relevant to your topic in a database. Brainstorm alternatives (synonyms, alternative spelling) for your key concepts.

Key concept 1: immigrants

  • Immigrant(s)
  • Immigration
  • Newcomer(s)

Key concept 2: Greater Toronto Area

  • Toronto
  • Greater Toronto Area
  • GTA
  • Scarborough / other municipalities

Key concept 3: housing market

  • Housing
  • Home(s)
  • Home ownership / homeownership
  • Rent / rental(s) / renting
Step 3: Combine your search terms In order to get more focused results, use Boolean operators (and, or) as well as the wildcard* to combine key concepts.

And: Combines key concepts together to find articles that contain both concepts.

Or: Combines alternative search terms to find articles that contain either/any concept.

Wildcard*: Finds variations in spelling, prefixes, and suffixes (revers* will find reverse, reversal, reversing, etc.)

Quotation marks: searches for word or phrase as a unit (preserves word order)

(immigrant* OR immigration OR newcomer*)


(Toronto OR "GTA" OR Scarborough)


(housing OR home* OR "home ownership" or homeownership OR rent*)

Step 4: Consider using limiters (available in a library database) In order to focus on articles that are appropriate for your assignment. Choose limiters in a library database that are relevant to your research needs.
  • Scholarly or peer reviewed
  • Format: e.g. scholarly journal
  • Publication date
  • Language
Step 5: Review your search results Check if articles are appropriate for your assignment to ensure you find the right information to write a high quality paper.

Check if you articles are:

  • Relevant to your topic and discipline
  • Popular or scholarly (depending on whether you're working on the first or second annotation assignment)
  • Current enough (publication year)
Step 6: Adjust your strategy If you don't find relevant articles, change your search strategy.

Too few articles? Try...

  • Adding more synonyms or related terms (combine with OR)
  • Deleting the least relevant term from your search
  • Using the wildcard*

Too many articles? Try...

  • Focusing on a specific component of the topic
  • Adding more keywords (combine with AND)

Too few articles?

  • Consider adding related terms to your search, which may have a broader or narrower meaning
  • Check for alternate spellings
  • Search for the plural versions of your concepts
  • Capture variant forms of each concept (e.g. noun vs. verb)


  • Compare the housing market in the GTA with other large Canadian cities
  • Expand the search to encompass housing in all of Ontario

Too many articles? Try...

  • Limiting the search to a specific population or group, phenomena, or aspect of the topic
  • Looking at your topic in a specific location or region


  • Narrow your search to the experiences of immigrants from a particular country or region of origin
  • Focus on one particular housing challenge, e.g. affordability

Adapted from The University of Manchester Library: Making Your Search Work (Cheat Sheet)

Video Tutorial