UMGC Library

Criminal Justice: Search Tips

A Library Research Guide

Search Tips for Criminal Justice Topics

Searching Basics

4 simple steps for effective database searching:

  1. Start with a Basic Search

First formulate a research questionDoes the death penalty serve as a deterrent to crime? Then think about the main ideas in your question and create a search statement using those ideas or concepts:

"death penalty" AND deterrent AND crime


2. Expand Your Search Using OR 

Use OR to include additional, related keywords:

("death penalty" OR "capital punishment") AND deterrent AND crime


3. Expand Your Search Using Truncation

Many databases allow you to use "*" (an asterisk) to truncate a term. Truncating allows you to search for all variations of a word using a single search. In this example, crim* will find crime, crimes, criminal, etc.:

("death penalty" OR "capital punishment") AND deterrent AND "crim*


4. Exclude Words With NOT

NOT lets you exclude words from your search to remove unhelpful articles from your results:

("death penalty" OR "capital punishment") AND deterrent AND "crim* NOT Texas

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