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Criminal Justice Research Guide

What Are Articles For?

First, what is an article?

Shorter pieces (essays, reports) published within a larger container (journal, newspaper, magazine) that comes out over and over again. We sometimes call the larger container a "periodical", because it comes out periodically. Periodicals can be popular, scholarly, or trade -- learn more about those distinctions at our Types of Sources overview.

Articles are good for...

  • Current, up-to-date information (periodicals are generally quicker to publish than books or long-form films)
  • Literature reviews and other reviews of their topic (often at the start of the article, to set the stage)
  • A deep dive into a particular research question, experiment, or study (articles will often be on a narrower topic than books)
  • Peer-reviewed information (newspaper articles go through at least some level of fact-checking, sometimes extensive, and academic articles most often go through a review by other scholars in addition to an editing review)

Search Toolkit

Truncation: If you type a word in your search that has variations, you may miss some results you need. Using a Truncation symbol, nearly always an asterisk, (*) to get plurals and variants. For example, music* will retrieve musician, musical, musicians. Laugh* will retrieve laughter, laughing, laugh. (Some databases may use different symbols, i.e. an exclamation mark (!).


Phrase searching: - enclose specific terms in quotation marks so they will be searched together, rather than returning results for each word independently.

NOTE: Most databases will allow you to truncate inside of a phrase (i.e. "broken window*").

Operators and Grouping: Use the AND and OR operators to get a better search.

OR expands your search by letting you look for multiple terms, i.e. synonyms.
AND narrows your results because you are looking for results that have both or all your terms so that your results include all concepts being searched and so are likely to be more relevant for your needs.


Simple Search (if there's only one search box) - Use parentheses to group multiple concept terms and operations.

Why Quotation Marks?

Using quotation marks forces the search engine to include all terms in that order. If you leave them out on a phrase such as "police innovations", you will get results which include the term police and results which include the term innovations, but not necessarily the two together in the phrase "police innovations." 

Good Better Best

nurse AND education
advertising AND children
"genetic engineering" AND ethics

nurs* AND education
advertis* AND child*
gene* engineering AND ethic*

nurs* AND (educat* OR train* OR school*)
(advertis* OR market*) AND (child* OR adoles*)
gene* AND (alter* OR engineer*) AND (ethic* OR moral*)

from Wellesley College Library Research Guides: Truncation and Boolean Searching