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:
|Young Adults||Middle Aged Adults|
|Longitudinal studies||Measures (instruments)|
The SocAbs thesaurus also has many terms for data analysis methodologies and for articles that compare or differentiate among study subjects or 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.
|North American Cultural Groups||Asian Cultural Groups||Latin American Cultural Groups|
|Central Asian Cultural Groups|
South Asian Cultural Groups
Southeast Asian Cultural Groups
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.
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.
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."