Exercise 5 – Finding Research articles

Let’s start with something very easy. I am interested in researching the topic of gun ownership in America. There were some interesting questions in the GSS on background checks for private sales of guns. I hunted around on http://scholar.google.com and found a few articles of interest, but had no access to the actual text. I did retrieve a citation for an article. Since I have access to journals through the UNCG library, I can take that citation and look up the actual article.

Here is the bibliographic information (not in any proper format):
Author: Jens Ludwig
“Better Gun Enforcement, Less Crime.”
Criminology & Public Policy
Volume 4 Issue 4, Pages 677 – 716
Published Online: 7 Dec 2005

  1. Go to the UNCG library page at http://library.uncg.edu/ and click on  “journal finder”
  2. Now enter the name of the journal – Criminology & Public Policy
  3. Find the correct year, volume and issue
  4. find the correct article and open the PDF
  5. to prove you have done this correctly, cut and past the last sentence of the article below.

You’ve now proven that you can find a journal article when provided enough bibliographic information.

Staying with the same theme as before…

What if I don’t have a citation to go by? Where will I find the information that I need?

The answer of course is in the online periodical indexes and databases. We are now going to use the Sociology Resource Page at http://uncg.libguides.com/soc then on the link to the “SocIndex with Full Text (SIFT) (EBSCO).” Notice this will give us access to 4,000 + journals.

In the search field type “gun sales” in the next field type “general social survey.” Make sure that you type these with quotation marks around the words.

This should have resulted in a single article. Copy the title of the article below.

So, really, how useful is a search that produces only one article… not very!

Let’s open it back up a bit. Remove the string “gun sales” and replace it just with “guns.”

How many articles popped up?

Brainstorm a list of FIVE other terms or strings dealing with guns. Enter each in the first field (using quote marks for strings) and the string “general social survey” in the second field. Tell me how many results you get each time (even if it is zero).

For example:

“gun ownership” + “general social survey” = 12 articles

OK… good, now. While still using the EBSCO database, I want you to search for “automatic weapons”. You should have 78 hits. But some of these are in magazines, conference papers, books, and non-academic journals. I want you just to use academic journals. Go to the tool bar on the left and click “Academic Journals.”  This will filter out the other kinds of publications.

How many articles are left?

Let’s stay with this theme… Do a new search. Limit the search to academic journals with the search terms “guns” + “general social survey”.

Find the article entitled “Gender, Region of Socialization, and Ownership of Protective Firearms.” Click on it. This will open a citation window.

Look for the link for the PDF Full Text (670KB)and click it.

This should open the article in a new viewer. Skip down to the conclusion. In your own words (2-3 sentences tops) summarize the conclusions of this study.

Ok… so sometimes you find an author that you really like and you want to look up everything they have written.

Staying with the gun theme, find the paper “Social Capital, Income Inequality, and Firearm Violent Crime”. Use a title search to get this paper. Now who are the authors? Let’s see if any of the authors have written anything else…This is called an ‘author search’ and is often quite useful.

Let’s start with the first author as an example. Type his name “Kennedy, Bruce P” in the first field and swith the selection from Select a Field (optional) to AU Author. Click search. You should have 18 articles showing from this author. If you will notice it looks like he writes broadly on the topic of income inequality, social capital, crime and health.

Now look up the second author. Make sure to select Scholarly Articles only. How many articles come up? Click the arrow beside relevance sort and resort by date in descending order. What is the most recent article (date and title)? What are Kawachi’s general topics of interest (Hint look at the list of subjects under each entry)?

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