Skip to main content

Ely Library at Westfield State University

Academic CalendarA-Z Offices & ServicesClass cancellationsBookstoreTechnology supportMy WestfieldEmail - studentsEmail - Faculty & staffPlato - Online learningEmloyee self-serviceReserve spaceLibrary homeWestfield State University home pageImage Map

Criminal Justice: CRJU 101 (Professor Tobin)

Books and Documentaries for Course Paper



5 Steps to Database Searching

1) Getting There

  • You're here! Select one of the databases from the recommendations below

2) Setting Limits

  • Select the option for peer review/scholarly sources
  • Consider setting limits for language or date range if necessary

3) Identifying Keywords

  • Drop any additional filler or fluff words from your research topic/question
  • Identify narrower, broader and similar terms for your keywords 
  • Place each keyword or phrase in it's own search box 

4) Examine Results

  • Check the result sorting and adjust to relevance or date newest as necessary
  • Read titles and abstracts to decide if content is appropriate
  • If the database provides it, check out subject terms for potential keywords and explore any additional recommended materials

5) Capturing Content

  • If the item is full text, use the print, save or email function to capture it for later
    • Be sure to send a citation when available
  • If the item is not full text, use the interlibrary loan service to request it 
    • Information for interlibrary loan is provided below

Database Recommendations


Works best if you are still trying to feel out your topic or your topic covers multiple academic subject areas like psychology, health, law, or education



Works well when you have a defined search question(s) or topic(s) and want to do more narrow searching. 



Check out the "Databases" tab on this page. Consider using other subject databases if they seem more relevant for your topic. 

Database Searching FAQ

How do you make sure that the articles you find are scholarly?

All of the databases will have an option to limit your results. Look for a check box that says Scholarly and/or Peer Reviewed. Checking this box will ensure that all of the articles in your results list are scholarly. 

What is the best way to search the database?

Databases prefer keyword searching, so make sure you take your key concepts and give each one its own search box. 

For Example: Race AND Police Brutality

                      Corruption AND Private Prisons 

What if you don't find any results?

Depending on the combination of topics, you may find many articles or very few. If you don't find viable results, try thinking about broadening/changing your keywords, or consider trying another database from the list.

What if we don't have the article you need in full text?

You can order any articles that you need through interlibrary loan services. The link for which is provided below.

Interlibrary Loan

577 Western Ave, Westfield, MA 01086

Contact Us