You may have noticed that several social sciences databases have a new look. Those databases formerly on the CSA Illumina platform, including Sociological Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and ERIC, are now searched through the Proquest interface. Although you can still search these databases in much the same way as before, there are a few changes about which you should be aware. This discussion is focused on Sociological Abstracts.
The first difference you will notice is that the search interface doesn’t have three boxes for terms connected by an OR on each line. This change is easily remedied by typing as many alternative terms as you desire on the same line. For example, you can enter the search query below:
If you want to search with an exact phrase, you will get the most precise results if you put the phrase in quotes, (e.g., “high school*”).
After you conduct your keyword search, your results will be displayed by a relevancy ranking rather than the former chronological display. If you prefer to see the most recently published sources, then change the sort in the drop-down menu to “Publication date (most recent first).”
Instead of selecting peer-reviewed journals or another source type by tabs, in the new interface you can limit results in your initial search by marking the “Peer-reviewed” box or by narrowing the results by source type after the search is executed.
Before when you searched Sociological Abstracts, you would need to scan the subject headings listed to the right of each citation in order to determine those most common and relevant for your search topic. The Proquest interface, however, has a “Subject” facet that enables you to view the most common subject terms for your search overall. In the example below, we see that there are headings for two of our terms, Adolescents and Youth, and more specific headings for High School Students and Black Americans.
One of the main differences between searching with the old and new interface is that the “Descriptor” field has been replaced with a “Subject heading (all)” field. Consequently, if you want to search using an exact descriptor (e.g., subject heading) rather than searching for terms to appear in the subject heading field, you will need to follow one of three paths.
One option is to select your subject heading from the “Look up Subjects” browse list that appears when you choose “Subject heading” from the drop-down menu and add it to your search.
Another option is to find your term in the thesaurus and then add the exact heading to your search.
You can also choose to type the word EXACT followed by your subject heading in parentheses and make sure to select the “Subject heading (all)” field from the drop-down menu.
To find additional subject heading terms related to our topic, we could proceed to check the Thesaurus of Sociological Indexing Terms. The thesaurus functions much as it did before, however, instead of the rotated index option to find your term anywhere within a subject heading, you now use the “Contains word(s)” option. If you would like to view related terms for a specific subject heading, you will need to click on the folder icon to the right of the term, as illustrated in the figure below. You can then paste selected subject headings to your search, if you like.
Be sure to consult the “Search Tips” section for more advice about searching Sociological Abstracts with the Proquest interface, which is located just above the search box, or consult the Proquest Sociological Abstracts LibGuide. You can also contact the Research Center with any questions.