Transcript - Advanced Research in Criminal Justice & Security - Jun 11 2019

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Welcome everyone. This is the Advanced Research in Criminal Justice & Security webinar. My name is Taylor Leigh, and I am the Liaison Librarian to the School of Public Policy and Administration here at Walden. This webinar is designed for students who have completed the bulk of their coursework and are starting to think through their dissertation. For the purposes of this webinar, I will assume that you are already familiar with the library's website, your own particular research homepage, and at least a few subject specific databases.


That being said, I want to emphasize that everyone is welcome here. I just wanted to include that little disclaimer in case you find yourself wondering what I'm talking about at any given point. And if you do find yourself in that situation, I recommend going back and watching the Introduction to Criminal Justice and Security webinar, because that will clarify a lot of the things we discuss here.


In this webinar, we will discuss advanced search strategies for subject specific databases. We'll also discuss pertinent parts of the library's homepage and helpful resources advanced level students have their disposal. With that being said, let's take a look at our objectives.


Okay. First we'll see how to access Quick Answers and library skills guides. These are two great pieces of instructional content that you have at your disposal. Then, we'll talk about Boolean operators, what they are and how you can use them to improve your database searching results. Then we'll look at some alternative search methods -- alternative to the standard keyword searching strategy. And we'll specifically talk about subject terms searching and abstract searching. Then, we'll talk generally about comprehensive searching, what it means to search comprehensively, and two ways that can help you do that -- saved searches and search alerts.


Finally, we will talk about how to go about requesting materials that we do not provide access to, which is a really important skill to have, especially the doctoral level.


And we will be deviating from the PowerPoint, so I'm going to, actually...oops...sorry. That's not what I meant to do. Give me one moment here.


Okay. So I'm going to come over here to the library's homepage, and I'll try to make this a bit bigger, because I want to show you how to access two helpful resources that you might not know about, Quick Answers and library guides. Both of these resource types offer written instructional content on a variety of topics related to using the library. Both Quick Answers and user guides are great, because unlike librarians, they are available 24/7. If you get stuck in your research, you might want to check out some of this content before submitting a question to the Ask a Librarian tool.


Both Quick Answers and Ask a Librarian are accessible through this main search bar on the library's homepage. The only thing you have to do to access them is to toggle from the default selected option, which is Thoreau, to the other option, which says Search everything. Then, we can simply type in something we have a question about. So for our example, I'm going to use the term "peer review.” And this is what your results will look like. Over here on the left, you will see our guides. In the central column, you will find Quick Answers. And on the right, you will see content from Thoreau.


Let's talk about Quick Answers first. As the name implies, these are short answers to commonly asked questions. Let me just like this first result which says, "What is peer-review?" And as you can see, it offers a concise answer to this question, and then links out to related content down here at the bottom. So this is a great place to start when you have really any questions about the library. And as a testament to its utility, this is where librarians at Walden go when we have a question about the library.


Now let's go back and look at a guide. So now, reviewing these guides, there will be two links per result. There will be a link which is bolded and then, a second link which is not bolded. The first link is a section of the second link. So the second link is actually the larger guide.  So when I click on that second link, and this is our verify peer review guide. As you can see, it offers much more detail than the quick answer does.


So keep that in mind. So that's how you access Quick Answers and our library skills guides. You can also browse all of the guides we have if you come up here to Get Help. Did I come to the right place? Yes. Library skills guides over here. This is where you can browse through all of the guides that we have, and we do have quite a lot. So if you have a question about the library, we likely have a guide on it. Definitely come here and review these at some point.


I'm going to go back to the library homepage now, and I'm going to use this search bar to segue into our next topic, which is Boolean operators. So I'm going to type in the word "Boolean," and I'm going to click on the first quick answer, “What are Boolean operators?” Let me see if I can enlarge this image a bit.


So Boolean operators, essentially, are these three terms AND, OR, and NOT. We use these terms between our search terms we are searching in the database to tell the database exactly how we want to search.


The word OR is going to always increase the number of results you get. It's going to expand the number of results you see. We use the word OR in between search terms that represent the same concept. So for any topic, there will be a few different concepts involved, but you want to use as many synonymous search terms for each concept as you can to get good results. And we'll see a good example of this, shortly.


The word AND, on the other hand, is always going to decrease the results. It’s going to limit them. And we use this word in between search terms that represent distinct concepts.


Finally, the word NOT is similarly going to decrease results, but it is used less frequently, only in special cases where there might be one word in research that is skewing the results that you're seeing, and you can exclude that term by using this term NOT.


So I'm going to go, now, to a database, so we can see these Boolean operators at work. And I'm going to go to, first I'm going to go to the criminal justice and security homepage, and am going to show you how to get there. If you haven't been, yet, the library homepage, click on this drop-down menu that says Select a subject. Come down to Criminal Justice and Security research homepage. And then, you'll be on the research homepage. I'm going to scroll down to open up this first drop-down menu for databases, and I'm going to open this first database, criminal justice database, up in a new tab.


Let's see if I can make this a bit bigger. Okay. Maybe one more.


Here we are on the advanced search screen of criminal justice database. For our sample research question today, we'll use this question:  What is the relationship between recidivism and drug abuse among white male ex-convicts?


So, the way we can begin is just pull keywords straight out of our research question. And we're going to use one concept per search box. So again, what is the relationship between recidivism and drug abuse among white, male ex-convicts? So I'm just going to start plugging in terms. Recidivism in the first search box. Drug abuse in the second search box. I'm going to add a couple of rows. White males, and add one more row and to do ex-convicts. I don’t typically want have five search boxes. Sometimes you might, but I like to try to keep it to two or three. But for the purposes of this exercise, this will be a good example.


Before we click search, we are going to scroll down this page and we want to uncheck this option for full text, and we want to check this peer-reviewed box. We do this to ensure we are seeing everything out there on this topic, not only those items we have immediate, full text access to. For the purpose of course assignments, you might want to keep that fulltext box checked, because you need those materials more quickly. But at the doctoral level for your dissertation, you really need to see everything. And we'll discuss how to request those materials that we don't have access to later on.


You can also limit by date on this initial search page. There's a lot of different options, you can select a specific date range. I, however, like to see how many results we get  before I do that. So I am going to Search.


Okay, from that search, we're getting 48 results. Now, that's not bad. But, it's not enough for a literature review, especially when you consider that at least some of these results are probably not going to be usable for you.


So let's use some of those Boolean operators to see what we can do. The way we will do that is click on Modify search at the top of the list of results. You want to do this instead of clicking Back, because clicking Back will erase your search terms. This will bring us back to that [indiscernible] search page. And I will show you a few tricks. In this first box, I have the term "recidivism." We can expand our results. Now this isn't technically Boolean operators, but if we place an asterisk after the s toward the end of the word... Actually, I'm going to place after that v. We will see results for all variations of that return. So this can be really helpful.


For recidivism, we'll see results for recidivism or recidivist. But there are other cases which, you know, there might be five or six other terms that you would return results for by doing that. So it's a good shortcut. So, recidivism with the asterisk, I'm going to use that Boolean operator OR. And, we can think about other terms we might use when we're talking about recidivism.


So one term I think about is repeat offenders or repeat offenses. So to capture both of those, I'm going to do that same trick. Put an asterisk after the letter n in the term "repeat offenders." And, another term we might use is "habitual offenders." Same thing. Going to use the asterisk again.


Then we move on to the next concept. In addition to drug abuse, we might use terms like drug use or substance abuse, I'll add those. And we'll continue, in addition to white, we'll do Caucasian. In addition to males, we’ll add men. And you can see, I've separated all of these new terms with the word OR. I'm capitalizing that word. You don't need to, necessarily. It used to be that you did have to indicate to the database what's happening. These days, they're more intuitive. But I still do it that way.


So, convicts, we can add a couple more terms like ex-felons or ex-criminals. And keep in mind you could and should use search terms that you personally would not use in your own writing. The goal here is to return as much relevant literature as possible. So you want to be thinking about, beyond terms you would use, be thinking about terms someone might use.


Okay, so we have added some terms. I'm going to search again to see what that did for our results, and now we are seeing 116. I think we had something like 48, if I'm not mistaken. That's just a brief demonstration of how much more you can find by optimizing your searches with those Boolean operators.


Now these are just, what we’ve been doing so far have been examples of simple keyword searching. And this will remain one of the most reliable and straightforward ways to search, but there are other ways to search, as well. As we mentioned before, subject term searching and abstract methods -- why would we choose one of these alternative methods over a simple keyword search, especially when we're all so comfortable with keyword searching, these days?


Well, the answer is, using one of these other methods is going to increase the relevancy of the results you see. So keyword searching might return results that only mention your search term once in passing. Subject terms, on the other hand, let me just explain a bit what subject terms are. These are words or phrases that are assigned to articles by humans based on the entirety of their content. So they're much more reliable indicators of relevancy.


Keywords can be virtually anything. You can search for anything as a keyword. Subject terms, on the other hand, have to be selected. They're limited and specific to an individual database. Depending on the database, the specific database you're in, subject terms might also be called things like index terms, Subject headings or topic. So they do go by multiple things.


If we want to do subject term searching, how do we even start, or how do we know which subject terms to use? Well, after you read a simple keyword search, you can view the subject terms assigned to any of your results by clicking. In this database, you would click this link underneath that says Abstract/Details. So I'm going to do that for our first result. And, scrolling down on this page, and you can see here it says subject, that has a list of four subject terms here.


So this is one way that you can identify those subject terms, and just looking at the subject terms that you see associated with the results that you get is going to help you identify other terms to use in future searches, or additional terms to add to your existing search. So, just another example here, another list of subject terms. And you'll note that all of these are hyperlinked, so you can click on one of them and it would show you all of the results in this particular database that have been assigned the terms for example, subject control.


One thing I will briefly mention, let me go back here, is ... let's see, let me go back to Modify search. Okay, if we do go back to Modify search, you come back to this initial screen, you'll also notice anything above this first search box that says Thesaurus. I'm going to open that up in a new window, a new tab. This is a tool that allows you to, essentially helps you brainstorm other terms that you might want to use when you're looking for literature on your topic. Let's say you've run some searches, you're not getting anything. This is where you might come to see there are any other terms that this particular database prefers over what you've been searching for.


Let's see here, so I'm going to type in "drug use." When I do that, it does give me a result, and that result is hyperlinked, so I'm going to click on that. And when I do this, it will show related terms underneath. Now this particular result is it limited. There's only about 8 or 9 terms here. And the results could be quite expansive.


And then, for other terms, you won’t get a result, at all. But it's always good to check. What I do is, I run a search and then I just scrolled through these results that I'm getting and I jot down on a piece of paper any other terms that I think might be relevant and might be helpful to use in my searches. Then I go back to this search page and add them in or I do a completely new search.


Another thing to know about is...I lost my train of thought. Let's see, let's run this search one more time. I want to get a subject term and show you an example. So we're looking at this subject terms for this first result. We do see that Recidivism itself is a subject term, so it is accepted subject term in this database, so we will use that for our comparative exercise in just a moment.


I also want to just show you... sorry, I'm getting scrambled here... essentially, once you identify some subject terms that are relevant for your topic, you can enter those in here and select Subject heading is what they call it in this database, and search that way. You can also do it the way I was indicating before, which is to click on the hyperlinked term that you see in the Abstract/Details page.


Now I also want to mention abstract searching. And this is a very simple yet very effective way to search. It's nearly identical to keyword searching except for one small but important detail. Like subject terms searching, abstract term searching is going to return more relevant results than just simple keyword searching, because it's going to search for your research terms only in the article's abstract. And, an article's abstract is a succinct summary of the overall content of the article. So if a term shows up there, it is very likely representative of the overall content of the article. That's why searching in the abstract is helpful. If you’re ever getting far too many results for your research, first of all, that's a good problem to have. But this is a good thing to do to narrow your results, but also increase the relevancy of those results.


So let me clear out this search, because I want to show you what I mean here.  So let's just use, let's use this term "drug abuse." First, we're just going to run a completely normal keyword search. I am going to limit to peer-reviewed. And I will uncheck full text. We just want to see, generally speaking, how much is out there on this topic of drug abuse.


So, over 40,000 results. So obviously, that is a high number of results, way too many to go through. So, instead of running a keyword search, let's change this to Subject heading. So just by doing that, this brings us all the way down to just over 12,000 -- so quite a few results. So let's see what else we can do. So instead of Subject heading to let's select Abstract. When we select Abstract, this brings us all the way down to about 4600 results. We went from 40,000 down to 4600 just by doing that. So keep this in mind, because it can be very helpful.


So let's switch gears now and talk about citation chaining. This is another alternative way to search that can be very effective. Let's say that you find an article, you've gone through a database search like we've done here. You find an article that is perfect for your topic, but it's from 2011, and your literature is supposed to come from the past five years. What can you do in this case? This is where citation chaining comes in to play. This is a way, you can do a lot with citation chaining. You can identify the most influencing articles on your topic, as well as use an existing piece of literature to follow that particular scholarly conversation both forward in time and backward in time. But most often, you'll be using it to identify more current literature on your topic.


So, the old-school way to do this was to simply find an article, go to the end, look at their list of references, start tracking down references that you find there. You can do that. That still remains a legit way to do it.


However, with technology, it's much easier to do that these days, and you can do that in our databases to a limited extent. If you see here this first result, there is this link down here that says cited by, and then another one that says References. So a click on this Cited by link is going to show you all the other content in this database that has cited this article. So you can see why this would be particularly helpful if you have literature that falls outside the five-year window. If you click on this, if this article is from 2013, let's say, clicking on this, you would see literature that was published in 2014, probably, or later. References, on the other hand, is going to give you all of this author’s references. So this is how you would follow that scholarly conversation back in time, if you wanted to do that.


Now, you can do that in some of our databases. However, Google Scholar is particularly helpful for citation chaining. Let me show you how you would use it. You would simply copy the title of the article, so I'm going to do that for our first result here. I'm going to come over to Google Scholar and paste it in and Search.


When I do that, it's going to bring back each entry [sounds like] for that article. And I want to draw your attention to another cited by link, the cited by link in Google Scholar. So I believe in our other search we have 84. In Google Scholar, we’re getting more like 117 – so, significantly more. And usually, it will be even more than that. But clicking on that link will show you all the other content in Google Scholar that cites the article that we searched for. So it's an excellent way to identify more recent literature. You will see links to, if any of this content is freely available online, you will see links to it over here.


If you have your Google Scholar in your web browser linked to Walden Library, you will see the Find @ Walden link. Whenever you see those, don't be afraid to click on that. That is your indication that we have this article somewhere in our collection, and clicking on that link will take you there. Another thing you might want to do is click on this Related articles link right by the Cited by link. That is a good way to identify relevant information, as well.


I think that's all I wanted to cover right now on Google Scholar, so I'm going to pivot back to our PowerPoint. We are deviating from the PowerPoint, as I mentioned. But you do have, I’ve hyperlinked everything in this presentation. So you can download it and access all of this content.


So I want to pause here and talk about comprehensive searching and search alerts. Comprehensive searching means exhausting the literature on your topic, finding everything out there. And this often -- or I should say, very nearly always -- requires that you look outside of your own research homepage.


We do have some webinars that are specifically on this topic, so I'm not going to go into too much detail about this right now. But it's just really important to realize that dissertation topics are, to some extent, almost all dissertation topics, rather, are to some extent interdisciplinary.


So, topics in criminal justice might include crime among children, in which case you might want to look at the education databases. Crime and mental illness, you would want to look at the psychology databases. Business crime, you can look at the business and management databases, etc., etc. So when you're looking at the research homepages, take a moment to think about your topic, and think about what other homepages might be beneficial to you. And you can very easily, back here on the Criminal Justice and Security page, you can very easily navigate to these other research homepages using this drop-down menu and the top, left corner of each page. So from here, I can jump to any of our other search homepages.


Okay, I'm going to come back to Criminal Justice Database. And I want to talk about Save searches and Search alerts. Let's say that you want a search that is particularly well-crafted, and it returns excellent results. You may want to save this search, and you may want to do that for a couple of reasons. One, you may want to return to this search at a later date. Maybe you don't have time right now to sit there and read through these results and pick out the one that you want. Or, you might want to be notified of new content added to this database that aligns with your search criteria. So the good news is in both of these cases, that you can do this. So let's see how we can do that.


First, if we go to the top of our results page where we are now and look over to the right, we see this link that says Save search/Alert. When you open this up, you will see a couple options. The first action is to Save Search. When you do that, it will save the search in a folder that appears up here in the top right corner.


Now, if you have not yet set up a personal account with this database, those results, any results that you save there or any searches that you save there will not be there next time you come in to the Criminal Justice Database. However, you can click on either the folder or this person icon, and it will prompt you to create your own account. These are free accounts, it's just your name and email address. Once you do that, you'll be able to save individual results as well as entire searches in folders that will show up every time you login. Just a word of warning, because we do hear from students who save a lot of content in a particular search and then they're wondering why it's not there next time they login, you do have to create that personal account.


The next option you have is to Create alert. This is a way that you can tell the database how often to email you new content that’s added to the database that meets your search criteria. This is very useful for after you've collected the bulk of your literature. Let's say you've collected most of your literature, you're focusing more [no audio] to stay abreast of the literature coming out on your topic, not necessarily going to be going in to the databases on a daily or even weekly basis. Set these search alerts and that will take care of this problem for you.


You can also create an RSS feed. And then finally, Get search link. This will create a permalink. It should come up in a minute. It might be slow. It will give you a link that you  [no audio] and then copy and paste into [no audio]


Glad we're back. It might have been a temporary glitch with my Internet. Funny enough, this is when that link pops up that we requested 30 seconds ago. But this is now a permalink that you can grab and save it to yourself, or save in your files, it will allow you to get back to that search at any point.


We're running a bit short on time here. Let me jump over, I want to show you how, I want to go back to the library's homepage now, there may be sometimes that you run a search and you find something, there are no full text options, and there's no Find @ Walden button. It's just a record, an index record for a particular source, and it seems highly relevant for your topic, and you want to use it. How would you go about getting it?


Well, the first thing I would do is to search in Google Scholar, to see if there is a freely available version online. Just a disclaimer, Walden Library cannot guarantee the authenticity of anything accessed through Google Scholar. But it can be helpful tool.


But, to see if any of the organizations creating access to that document seem at all subject [sounds like], I would just come over here to the library website to Services. Over here on the left you click on Document Delivery Service. And you can read a bit about Document Delivery Service here.


Essentially, what this allows you to do is request materials and we email you those materials that we don't have in our collections within seven to 10 business days. Now most of the time, these are going to be articles or book chapters. But you can read about it. You can see a short video on how to do it. Then you can sign in using this button on the left-hand side. There is a 30 article limit with DDS requests. So just keep that in mind. Most students don't even come close to that limit, but just keep in mind use your requests for only those materials that you think are most necessary for your research.


Another thing we have is a resource called WorldCat.  The web address is It will be linked in the presentation. This is essentially an international catalog. It has every type of resource with the example, journal, etc. You simply enter in the name, the type of what you're looking for. You can enter an author's name in search. I'm just going to use Walden as an example. And it will bring back all of the different entries that it has for Walden. And in this case, it's over 75,000.


So you can navigate to whatever version -- typically what you're searching for would not produce that many results -- but you navigate to whatever addition you're interested in. Say I was interested in this edition, I could click on that come down here where it says Enter your location. You can enter in your ZIP Code, and yep, this was not functioning in the last webinar I did, as well. So unfortunately, this feature is not working. But typically, you can enter in your ZIP Code and click Find the libraries, and it will show you all the libraries close to you that will have that research. So keep that in mind. It will show you public libraries, if you have a good public library system, you have access to a lot of good resources. It will also show you private libraries at universities and colleges. For those I would just recommend calling them before you head over to them just to make sure they're okay with you consulting their materials.


Let's go back to the homepage. Really quick, I want to just mention a few tools that you have that we recommend, rather, to stay organized as you collect the literature. One is called a literature review matrix. I will just use the term "matrix" to bring up a quick answer that says, "What is a search log or matrix?" It's this gives you a good example of what I'm talking about.


This is a search log, it's a very basic table you can set up an Excel or a Word document. And it has four columns for database, search terms, results, and any notes. This will really help you remember where and how you searched. And this is going to become very important when you're writing Chapter 2, because you are asked to report on research strategy. If you kept detailed notes like this, that's going to be much, much easier. So this is a search log.


Now, I'm going to follow a link at the bottom here to show you an example of what we call a literature review matrix. So here that is. This is, as you can tell, it's a more detailed, a more complex table. There are more columns. This is what you will use to record notes on the actual sources that you pull and plan on using in your research. So there's a column for author, theoretical framework, methodology, conclusions, etc. You can add columns as needed. You can add a column for theme, that’s a particularly helpful one.


If you do set yours up in Excel, you can sort those columns at the end, and this will help you synthesize your literature. And they do provide access to blank templates both in Word and Excel in this page from the Writing Center.


Okay, so that covers what I wanted to discuss today, minus one thing that I'm remembering and I'm going to come back over to the homepage. I want to remind you of how you can contact us. I threw a lot at you today, you might have questions. If you do, come up here to this Ask a Librarian button, click on it, you'll see the various ways that you can contact us. You can email us, chat us, phone us. And if you are at the doctoral level, you can schedule a research appointment, and that is a 30 minute sit down with a librarian in which you can receive individualized attention and assistance with any aspect of the process you're struggling with.


I also want to show you where you can access this webinar among others. And that is to click on Get help around the top banner of any library website. And then in the webinars box, click on Recorded webinars. And we do have webinars on a lot of different things. So if you haven't yet, feel free to browse these.


Let me hop back over and make sure I haven’t forgotten…. You can reach me at this email, Those messages come straight to me. Or you can go through the Ask a Librarian feature -- any way you're comfortable. With that, I just want to say, thank you so much for attending today, best of luck with your research. Now I will stop the recording and take any questions that you may have. Thank you.



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