Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Criminal Justice Research Methods Literature Review Assignment Guide

Recommended resources and strategies for completing the research for your Criminal Justice Literature Review.

Basic Searching - Library Databases

list iconAs you gather background information and data, keep a running list of relevant words, phrases, key concepts, and subjects you encounter to use in future searche

Make a list of terms and their variations. Different authors use different terms and having this list will help you cover all your research bases.


NOTE: If you are having trouble finding relevant information, put quotes or parentheses around phrases of more than one word -- "criminal justice" or (criminal justice) - to search for the phrase  - (criminal justice) - instead of the individual words, "criminal" and" justice" separately, which will return many irrelevant results.

note icon

Examples of Terms and Variations:

  • police; policeman, policemen, (police women), "police department"
  • law; "law enforcement;"  (law enforcement officer), "law enforcement agency," 
  • juvenile, "juvenile justice," (juvenile courts), "juvenile offenders," (juvenile jurisdiction),
  • court, courts, court case, (drug court) "court jurisdiction," (local courts), "state court," (federal court)
  • crime, cybercrime, "crime scene," (crime victims), "crime control," (drug crimes), "white collar crime,"
  • traffic, trafficking, "traffic safety," (traffic violations), "traffic management," (traffic control)

Advanced Search Strategies - Library Databases

advanced search icon

Advanced search strategies can save you time and narrow your search from tens of thousands of articles to dozens.

Remember when searching, put quotes or parentheses around phrases of more than one word to search for the phrase instead of the individual words separately.


  • Boolean Operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to help you narrow or expand your results
    • Searching for cybercrime AND "law enforcement" will give you results with both words present. Therefore, your results are fewer.
    • Using OR between similar keywords cybercrime OR hackers will give you results that include either word alone or both words together. Therefore, your results are greater. A search for will retrieve either or both terms.

      The NOT operator gives you results from only one of your words -  delivery NOT mail - . Therefore, your results are fewer. Searching  eliminate articles containing the word mail from the results.

    • Most databases have an Advanced Search option that provdes you with three or more boxes to insert keywords, phrases, names etc. and options to choose AND, OR, and NOT from a drop-down menu.

  • Wildcard Searching - Truncation will save you time by searching or variations of a root word

    • Adding an asterisk to a root word, crim* means you will locate articles or information for ALL variations of the root, crim*

      • crime, crimes, criminal, criminals, criminality, criminology

Western Technical College
Western Technical College Learning Commons
Student Success Center, Room 201
400 7th Street North
La Crosse, WI 54601
State Relay: 711
EEO Statement

Learn more about Western and the Learning Commons.
The Learning Commons provides library and academic support services on campus and online. The Learning Commons will set you up for success!

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For details and exceptions, see the Library Copyright Statement.
©2020, Western Technical College

If you are experiencing disability related accessibility issues with any information on this website, please email or call 608-785-9524.