|Office: FLITE 140C|
|Office: FLITE 140H|
Law Enforcement Academy (CRIM 420)
Developing Your Search Strategy
- Make a thesis statement about your assignment. What is your project going to answer or develop? What do you already know about your topic?
- Look over your assignment. Highlight the main point and key words you need for your search strategy.
- Identify key concepts. What two or three words describe the major points of your project?
- Think about alternate forms and synonyms of the words used.
- Develop "concept blocks", each concept block made of similar words that describe a topic, then link the topics together to see if you can get specific information about your thesis statement.
Starting Your Search
- Use reference sources to get a broad overview of your topic.
- Use books to gain more background and depth about the topic.
- Move finally to journal articles to gain more current information and targeted specific facts and updates about the topic, and to substantiate your theories and research.
- Use reliable websites sparingly to add currency and authority if you are unable to find the materials in other ways.
Know How to Use Your Information Tools (Work Smarter, Not Harder)
- Figure out what tools you have at hand and select one.
- Before you begin, study the search tips.
- Explore the different functions available.
- Take 5 minutes as you start to save hours of time later on.
- Begin with general searches, then become more specific.
- Limit to title searches if search becomes overwhelming, then move to subject searching.
- Try using online resources where you can quickly skim the contents.
- Look for a marked list function to save searches.
- Jot down the search terms you used in the different resources. As you learn new terms, go back and search those resources with your new terms.
- Save your searches either by printing material, emailing citations, saving to a flash drive, or using a bibliographic database like RefBase or Zotero.
Suggested Tools for this Assignment
- Ferris Library Encore Catalog
- Ferris Library Classic Catalog
- Criminal Justice Periodicals Index
- Criminal Justice Abstracts
- Criminology (Sage Journals Online)
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service
- Use the Advanced Search in Google to find reliable web sources. Limit your domain search to .gov sites.
Try "problem oriented policing" and "models" or "problem solving" and "police" and "models"; it's helpful to add a .gov domain to your search. One document you may find particulary helpful comes from FEMA's website: Decision Making and Problem Solving.
(See also Finding Journal Articles below.)
Books are one of the best ways to gather background, gain a general understanding of your topic and explore subjects in-depth. Reference books - both print and electronic - are excellent starting points.
Electronic Reference Books can be found at the Online Reference Resources link on the Databases tab. Select the Criminal Justice link for several useful titles. Other useful reference information can be found in Credo Reference and Oxford Reference Online.
You can also find other authoritative electronic resources (including e-books) in the online catalog as well as print books. Information produced by the U.S. government is especially helpful; the government disseminates most of its information electronically, and much of this can be found through the catalog.
Use FLITE databases to find magazine and journal articles on a particular topic. Many databases provide the full-text of the articles that you find; some may only provide a citation or an abstract.
ABI Inform Complete
The premier business journal database; you may find many articles on problem-solving here.
This full-text database includes millions of articles covering a multitude of subjects from journals, magazines, and newspapers and is currently available for free access in the state of Michigan after you graduate through the Michigan eLibrary. Many Criminal Justice journals are included in Academic OneFile, in addition to other journals that touch on issues affecting your field. A general database like this useful for early exploration of your topic as well as one to use if you are unfamiliar with database searching.
Criminal Justice Periodicals Index
This database provides selective full-text coverage to journals in the fields of law enforcement, corrections administration, social work, drug rehabilitation, criminal and family law, industrial security, and other criminal justice fields. Citations extend back to 1981.
Criminal Justice Abstracts
With citations dating back to 1968, Criminal Justice Abstracts is prepared in cooperation with the Criminal Justice Collection of Rutgers University Library. Indexing journal articles, books, and government reports, Criminal Justice Abstracts covers such topics as crime trends, crime prevention and deterrence, juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, police courts, and sentencing.
Criminology (Sage Journals Online)
Sage Criminology has very deep backfiles, so you can research your topic over a longer time span, providing you with a broader scope.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (Available free after graduation on the web)
National Criminal Justice Reference Service is freely available and provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. It will still be available to you once you leave Ferris. More than 7,000 full-text reports are available through the "A-Z Publication/Products" tab. You can also reach abstracts of other federal, state, and local government reports, books, journal articles, and unpublished research using the "Library/Abstracts" tab.
Getting the Article
Once you've found citations relevant to the topic you're working with and you need to get a copy of the articles, you'll need to verify whether FLITE owns the particular journal in which each article was published. Many databases now have a link called "Find It", which gives you the range of options available to find the material. If the full text of the article is available, you will be able to find the article by clicking on the Go button.
Sometimes the Find It button will provide a link to the Library Catalog. This indicates that the journal is found in FLITE's print collection. If you are off-campus and can't come to FLITE, simply order the article through Interlibrary Loan and mention you are an off-campus student in the Notes field.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
If the only message you see is after you click Find It is "Request document via Interlibrary Loan", you will need to order the article.
Interlibrary Loan is a service provided by FLITE where you can request articles and books that FLITE does not own. The first time you use this service, you will need to register with ILLiad, our Inter-Library Loan service. Click on the words "First Time Users" to register. You will complete a form, creating a username and password which will be used for future requests. Article requests are emailed to you in 5-10 business days (Ferris email preferred), and books will be mailed to you if you are an off-campus student. On-campus students may pick up books at the Checkout Desk.
To look up whether FLITE owns a particular journal, use the Find Journals database to search for the journal title. Remember to use the journal title not the article title for your search.
Plagiarism is the act of presenting another's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is often unintentional, but it occurs whenever you use someone else's ideas or words without giving them credit. It can be obvious - purchasing a term paper or turning in a project done by someone else. It can be putting other's ideas into your own words. It can be cutting and pasting text from a web site. A simple rule: Do not copy text from Web pages or other sources without identifying and giving credit to the original author.
Here are some ways to avoid plagiarism, taken from PILOT, the FLITE Information Literacy Online Tutorial.
To avoid Plagiarism:
- Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
- Write down the complete citation information for each item you use
- Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
- Always credit original authors for their information and ideas
For more information about Plagiarism, please explore the Writing Center's statement on plagiarism.
Whenever you are quoting or using information from a source, you must credit or cite that source. Failure to do so is plagiarism which can lead to expulsion from the University.
To learn more about citations, check out this FLITE Citations page.
Print out the FLITE APA Citation Guide and use it to properly format your citations.
One of our missions at FLITE is to offer all off-campus students access to the high-quality research materials available through the library. FLITE's subscription databases are available to all current Ferris students, faculty, and staff, including off-campus students. Our Distance Education web site should help you with any questions you may have about reaching FLITE from wherever you are. Be sure to study it carefully and return to it often. If you experience problems logging on, please call (231) 591-2669 or (800) 4-FERRIS (ext. 2669).
Contact: Stacy Anderson / Email / Phone: 231-591-3635 / Office: FLITE 140C
Contact: Kristen Motz / Email / Phone: 231-591-3625 / Office: FLITE 140H
Don't forget, you are welcome to come to the Oval Information Desk and ask for help any time. You can also call us 231-591-3602 or chat with us.
Last update: September 6, 2011