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SOCI 006 - Race & Ethnic Relations: Finding articles - SocAbs

SocAbs - the comprehensive sociology literature index

Sociological Abstracts is the best database to use for identifying scholarly and professional literature in sociology and related fields such as criminology and demography. Its coverage starts in the mid-1950s. SocAbs describes journal articles, books and book chapters, and dissertations.

Social Services Abstracts complements SocAbsby covering the social policy, social welfare, community development, and social work literature, 1979-present. SSA and SocAbs use the same subject terms. If you're interested in the activist or service aspect of sociology, it's a good idea to search both databases together:

SocAbs offers special features for effective searching:

  • SocAbs subject headings
    Subject headings are often hierarchical:
    North American Cultural Groups
    NT Asian Cultural Groups
    NT South Asian Cultural Groups
  • Age Group terms
    The most specific age group is usually applied:
    Infants Children
    Adolescents Adults
    Young Adults Elderly
    Young Adults Middle Aged Adults

  • Methodology used in research
    The SocAbs thesaurus includes many terms for data collection methodology. They include:
    Case studies Census
    Experiments Fieldwork
    Interviews Life history
    Longitudinal studies Measures (instruments)
    Observation Surveys
    Some of these terms will have narrower terms too:
    Surveys : Opinion polls

The SocAbs thesaurus also has many terms for data analysis methodologies and for articles that compare or differentiate among study subjects or groups.

  • Classification codes
    Use these as "super subject headings" identifying primary subject matter.
    HINT #1! ProQuest's Classification codes searching is clumsy. Consult the ProQuest wiki for the hierarchical scheme.
    HINT #2!Search by using the 4-digit Classification code numbers, not the verbiage.
    1022 = Generations/Intergenerational Relations
    2147 OR 2151 = Sociology of Crime; Juvenile Delinquency
    1900 OR 1938 OR 1939 OR 1940 OR 1941 OR 1976 OR 1977 OR 1978 = The Family & Socialization (inc. Adolescence, Sexual Behaviour, Death & Dying)
    HINT #3! SSA's Classification Codes are different from SocAbs. If you're searching both databases together, be sure to look at the SSA codes

  • References, Cited by, and Documents with shared references
    Got an article? Find it in SocAbs, then use Cited By to see more recent articles that included it in their bibliographies.
    Use Documents with shared references to identify clusters of articles with similar bibliographies.

Searching SocAbs for research on race and ethnic groups

Searching SocAbs (and Social Services Abstracts) for race and ethnic groups in general is easy. However, to search for specific national ancestry populations is surprisingly difficult. You may need to try several searches before you'll be satisfied with your search results.

BTCultural Groups
North American Cultural GroupsAsian Cultural GroupsLatin American Cultural Groups
NTAmerican Indians
Arab Americans
Asian Americans
Black Americans
Eskimos
Hispanic Americans
Jewish Americans
Central Asian Cultural Groups
South Asian Cultural Groups
Southeast Asian Cultural Groups
American Indians
Caribbean Cultural Groups
Hispanic American Cultural Groups has three narrower terms: Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans

But SocAbs has changed the way it describes race and ethnic groups, and it never went back and updated the old terms.

  • SocAbs subject terms, early 1990s to present: "... Americans" terms used.
    Asian Americans = US citizens of Asian or Pacific Islander descent
    Also, many records will have "identifier/keywords" for specific groups, e.g., Japanese Americans".
  • SocAbs subject terms, 1986 to present: "... Cultural Groups" terms used.
    Asian Cultural Groups
    Also, many records will have "identifier/keywords" for specific groups, e.g., Japanese Americans".
  • SocAbs subject terms, 1950s to mid-1980s: A multiple-term pattern was used:
    The study group's country of ancestry (e.g., Japan/Japanese) and the study group's country of residence (e.g., America/Americans OR United States/US)
    Also, many records will have "identifier/keywords" for specific groups, e.g., Japanese Americans".

So, a truly compulsive SocAbs search would be:su("asian americans" AND japan*) OR su("asian cultural groups" AND japan* AND ("united states" OR america*)) OR su("japan*" AND ("united states" OR america*)) OR "japanese american*"

Got that? It's not so bad: the database is called Sociological Abstracts, so searching for "japanese americans" should turn up the phrase in article abstracts as well as subject terms.

Discovering SocAbs subject headings

SocAbs's real strength is its subject thesaurus, the network of subject headings assigned to every SocAbs (and Social Services Abstracts) record. Searching SocAbs effectively means discovering and combining these subject headings.

Here are two ways to discover SocAbs subject headings, using this example:

"I'm interested in research on Asian American parenting styles."

  1. Search first, then look at your results, then search again.
    • Advanced Search #1.
      "asian american*" in Anywhere
      AND parenting in Anywhere
    • Results.
      Click on the right sidebar "Subject" facet. Then click on "Subject"'s "More options ...".
      Look through the list of most-frequently occurring subject headings: childrearing practices, parents, parent child relations, family school relationship, parental attitudes, parental influence.
    • Advanced Search #2.
      "asian american*" in Anywhere
      AND ("childrearing practices" OR "parent child relations" OR "parental influence") in Subject Heading (all) - SU
  2. Use the Thesaurus to develop subject heading synonym sets.
    • Thesaurus Search #1.
      Put the cursor in the first search box. Then click on "Thesaurus".
      Search terms: Asian American Begins with
      "Asian Americans" is retrieved. Check on "Asian Americans"'s "Explode" check box. Then click on "Add to Search".
    • Thesaurus Search #2.
      Put the cursor in the second row's first search box. Then click on "Thesaurus".
      Search terms: parenting Contains
      "Parenting Methods" is retrieved, but there's no check box! Click on "Parenting Methods" to find proper term, "Childrearing Practices".
      Check on "Deception"'s "Explode" check box. Click on the "stack of papers" icon to see related terms, and check on synonyms for Parenting. Then click on "Add to Search".