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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sociological Abstracts: Basic Search

A guide to using the Sociological Abstracts database.

Basic Search

Image showing Sociological Abstracts' Basic Search box.

Sociological Abstracts' Basic Search defaults to a keyword search across all record fields. Use Boolean operators, proximity operators, and field codes for a more specific keyword search. As you type into the search box, it will suggest terms to search by in a drop-down menu below the search box. 

Search Tips

  • Choose specific terms that are closely related to your research topic, including terms you might use when discussing your topic with a colleague such as jargon, synonyms, and abbreviations.
  • Sociological Abstracts searches are not case sensitive. 
  • Sociological Abstracts automatically finds variant spellings of words. 
  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase (e.g. "child development") 
  • Use Boolean operators to limit, broaden, or eliminate terms from your search:
    • AND limits search results, finding articles with both terms 
    • OR broadens results, finding articles with either term 
    • NOT eliminates terms from the results, finding articles with one term but not the other 
  • Use truncation and wildcards to broaden your search:
    • An asterisk (*) replaces multiple characters in a term, finding variant spellings and suffixes. Sociological Abstracts only allows for truncation within a term (e.g. colo*r for color and colour), or at the end of a term (e.g. farm* for farm, farms, farmer, etc.); never at the beginning. 
    • A question mark (?) replaces a single character in a term, finding specific variant spellings. Sociological Abstracts only allows for wildcards within a term (e.g. sm?th for smith and smyth), or at the end of a term (e.g. cat? for cat and cats); never at the beginning.
  • Use proximity operators to make a search more specific:
    • NEAR/# or N/# denotes how far apart you want your search terms to appear (e.g. nursing NEAR/3 eduction for the two terms to show up within 3 terms of each other in the search results. 
    • PRE/# or P/# denotes how far apart you want one search term to appear before a second term (e.g. nursing PRE/3 education for the term nursing to appear 3 terms before education). PRE/# is different from NEAR/# as it specifies which term you want to appear first in the search results. 
  • Use field codes to make your search more specific (e.g. AU(Smith) for documents with Smith in the author field. 
    • Common field codes include AB() for abstract, AU() for author, SU() for subject, TI() for document title, and YR() for publication year.