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SOCC03: Collective Behaviour

Fall 2023 - Dr. James Braun

Recommended Journal Article Databases

Begin your search with the following recommended databases to look for scholarly and peer-review journal articles on your topic. 

No one database has everything. Search multiple databases from the list below to find adequate articles on your topic. To find more databases from the library, click 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.

EXAMPLE RESEARCH QUESTION: How does social media impact recent outbreaks of civil unrest? Find peer-reviewed journal articles published in the last 5 years.

  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. How does social media impact recent outbreaks of civil unrest?  
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: Social media

  • Social network
  • Social networking
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

Key concept 2: Civil unrest

  • Conflict
  • Revolution
  • Riot
  • Rioting


Step 3: 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.
  • Peer-reviewed articles
  • Published in the last 5 years
Step 4: 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: Combine alternative search terms to find articles that contain either concept.

Wildcard*: Finds variations in spelling, prefixes, and suffixes (riot* will find riot, riots, rioting)

(social media OR social network* OR twitter OR tiktok)


(civil unrest OR conflict OR revolution OR riot*)

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
  • Peer-reviewed
  • Published in the last 5 years
Step 6: Adjust your strategy If you don't find relevant articles, change your search strategy.

Too few articles? Try...

  • Brainstorming more/better alternative search terms
  • Deleting the least relevant term from your search (if you have multiple terms)
  • Using the wildcard*

Too many articles? Try...

  • More keywords (example: focus on a country/region, time periods, or group of people)

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