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CRJU 3020: Research Methods In Criminal Justice

This guide will help you find information and resources on research methods. Click on the various links to access library resources plus reliable, relevant websites.

Boolean? What? Why?

When searching a database consider using the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to join the terms in your search. When linking terms with Boolean Operators you are building an equation. In other words you are telling the database how your search terms should relate to one another.

Let's look at each operator one at a time...

AND : If you join your terms with AND, then all of your terms must be in each record of your results list. Joining terms with AND will narrow your search results.

As in: Automobile Theft AND Atlanta 

Each record within your results list will include BOTH terms.


OR : If you join your terms with OR, then either of your terms or both terms will be included in your results list. Joining terms with OR will broaden your search results.

As in: Fear OR Phobia ; College OR University

Make sure the terms you link with OR are related - think, synonyms.


NOT : If you join your terms with NOT, then one of your terms will be excluded from your results list.

As in: College Students AND Drinking patterns NOT Binge

This search will return records that have both College Students AND  Drinking Patterns  however if the term Binge appears in the record it will be excluded from your results list.

Example Topic - Criminal Justice Reform

Broad Topic to Narrower Topics

Criminal Justice Reform

     Prison Release System

Early release

Presumption of innocence

Racial disparities

Sentencing Disparities


Timeline or chronology of issue

Selected Library Databases

Use the Boolean Operators when searching the databases

Find Books

To get background information on your topic, try searching GIL, the catalog for an encyclopedia for criminal justice or something specifically on your topic.