If EBSCO is a bear, then AcademicOneFile is a friendly otter. Did you know otters hold hands while they sleep so they don’t drift away from each other?
That’s the type of need-to-know information you can find on AcademicOneFile. With nearly 80 million articles from peer-reviewed as well as popular publications, you can learn just about anything you need to know – even if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
To get to the AcademicOneFile database, log in to EICConnect and click on Library under the Menu icon in the upper left of the page. Click on Electronic Resources to see all of the databases available to you from your computer or mobile device. If you’re using one of the computers on campus, you can access these from the Library home page (click on “A list of electronic resources can be found here”).
Once you click on the icon, you should access a home screen that looks a little like this:
You may use the search bar above to search for terms and then narrow your search afterward. We recommend, however, narrowing on the front end by first choosing a discipline under which to search. If we click on “Criminal Justice” under the “Browse by Discipline” section below the search bar, we get a screen of topics that fall under the umbrella of criminal justice:
Looking through these subjects in alphabetical order, we see that they cover a wide range of topics, from the court system to the prison system, from trafficking to white-collar crime. If we select “Gangs and organized crime” (top center), AcademicOneFile returns a collection of articles all related to this topic.
At first, it appears that our search has yielded 256 results. That number only accounts for academic articles, however. If you look at the right-hand sidebar under “Content Types,” you’ll see there over 5,000 other types of publications – from popular magazines to news stories – that fit our subject search. Either way, that’s more than we could go through in an entire academic year, let alone the time we have to research a paper.
Not only that, but the first three articles vary widely in subject matter: one is about Australian motorcycle gangs, one is about a racketeering statute in Iowa, and the third appears to tackle the increasingly complicated relationship between Mexico’s government and its organized crime. Aside from all falling under the umbrella term of “gangs and organized crime,” these articles have nothing to do with each other.
We need to narrow our search further. Still on the right side of the screen, now we’re going to choose methods to limit our search by selecting options under the heading, “Limit By.”
Expanding the list under “Subjects” shows us dozens of topics from hundreds of categories: from location (Chicago and Los Angeles are two examples) to crimes (such as theft, extortion, and murder) to demographics (youth, prisoners, law enforcement, etc.).
Topic Finder gives us a visualization of these subjects organized by frequency of term usage as well as how these terms appear to relate. Topics closer to the middle tend to be umbrella terms, which are used most often, while the topics on the outer part of the wheel appear frequently alongside the major term.
Perhaps none of these suggested subjects are quite what you’re looking for. Maybe you heard about a new trend in California where gangs of old ladies terrorize young men. In that case, you can use the search bar (also located on the right-hand side of the screen) to search within your results. That means that no matter what you type in, AcademicOneFile will only search for that term within the articles it’s already pulled.
So if we type “Iowa” into that search bar, we cut our results down to fewer than 100. If we go back to the search bar and enter the term “violence,” it now narrows are search using both of those terms and still under the umbrella of gangs and organized crime. This leaves us with just 15 articles to look through.
As we read through these articles, we first look at the abstract (that is, a summary of each article) to ensure we aren’t wasting our time reading about an unrelated topic. We also begin to take notes on terminology so we can reboot our search once we’ve found everything of relevance under our current terms (“Iowa” and “violence”).
If we find this article relevant – and its January 2017 publish date by the University of Iowa’s Iowa Law Review is definitely a plus – then based on the above abstract, it looks like some of the next terms we’ll search for might be “IOCCA,” “RICO,” and “Model Act.”
As you can see, AcademicOneFile requires some patience, but it has handy search tools in addition to user tools such as the Listen button (which reads the article to you), citation help, and easy share options. This database is a must for students of the sciences and social sciences.