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WRPR 182: The American Family in Historical Perspective (HC)

Writing Program 182: The American Family in Historical Perspective (Lapsansky) Spring 2023

Immigrant Experiences

Marvin Koner, Italian family immigrating to the United States,1957  (Source: Wikimedia Commons

Using Journal Articles

Journal articles provide in-depth scholarly information for your research.  They are vetted and improved by peer review prior to publication.  They form an important part of the communication network that makes research available, prompts discussion, and identifies new issues to resolve.

When searching in journal databases, these strategies will get better results:

*  Truncation:  Shorten search words with an asterisk to get all the forms 
          politic*  will get politics, political, politicians

OR:  Link synonyms with OR and group them with parentheses
          (immigra* OR ethnic*)

AND: Combine topics that you want to see together
           family AND gender* AND (economic* OR work*)

" " Phrase: Use quotation marks to search for words together in that order
          "migrant agricultural laborers"   "birth control"

Focus: Choose where the database is searching.  It may be set automatically for keyword.  You can make the search more precise by looking instead for title words only or for subjects.

Results: Look at the articles retrieved for additional ideas and concepts. Then change your search terms for additional results

Indexes for History and Related Fields

Multidisciplinary Indexes

Use these journal databases where you can apply a full range of search techniques to find scholarship on your topic.  These include choosing exact terminology, using Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT to define the relationships among search terms, and employing strategies for precise results with nesting, phrase searches, truncation, field searching, and sorting results.  See the Search Tips tab for more details.  

They cover the top-tier journals but will not go into depth in the different subject areas:

Indexes for Other Subject Areas

Tracking Citations Forward in Time

Usually researchers find more sources by looking at the footnotes in an article or book, but these will always be older than the publication you have in hand.  Citation indexes like the Web of Science (which includes sections for the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Science) are set up to search for sources cited in the footnotes of journal articles as soon as they become available. 

This allows you to find newer articles which cite the books and articles you already know are key for your topic.  By relying on connections between authors rather than subject words and by moving forward in time, citation searching can open up new avenues of research.

For more information about using cited reference databases, see this tutorial.