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Criminology & Criminal Justice

A guide to library resources about criminology and criminal justice.


Break down your thesis into concepts. Develop a list of synonyms.

EXAMPLE: women AND prisons

Combining different terms gives you different results.


Clearly define your thesis statement. Trouble spots to look out for:

Too Broad - EXAMPLE: gangs

  • Solution: add another concept to your topic which will narrow your thesis and make it more focused.
    EXAMPLE: women and gangs

Too Narrow - EXAMPLE: women AND gangs AND "family income"

[NOTE: to search a phrase use quotes]

  • Solution: Remove one secondary concept from your thesis.
    EXAMPLE: women AND gangs AND "family income"

Searching with Discover@UMSL

Searching with Discover@UMSL

Discover@UMSL provides access to a wide variety of sources through electronic databases and the UM System’s library catalog, including journal articles, books, ebooks, media, and more. The search tool pulls results from many databases at once.

 1   On the library homepage (, type in your keywords and hit enter or click the Search button. Use the fewest number of words that represent your topic—the more keywords you enter, the smaller your list of results will be (because each result must contain all words you enter). Use double quotation marks to search for exact phrases.

Search box for remote learning "middle school"


 2   Log in using your SSO ID (the first part of your UMSL email address) and password

NOTE: Discover@UMSL requires you to log in to see the full list of results and to access your library account. If you choose to search as a guest, you may be unable to read the titles of certain items; instead, you’ll see a message that reads: “Login to gain access to this result.” 

Log in to EBSCO with SSO ID and password


 3   Here are some helpful features of the results page:

 A  Limit your results by choosing filters on the left side of the page. A few common examples are Peer Reviewed, Academic Journals (in the Source Type category), and publication date. Some filters are already selected by default to help direct you to UMSL’s holdings.

NOTE: At this time, some filters (such as Academic Journals) need to be reapplied each time you change your keywords at the top of the results page.

 B  The icons under each title indicate at a glance what type of resource the item is. Some common examples are Academic Journal, Book, eBook, and Periodical.

 C  Usually, it’s obvious when UMSL provides access to the full text of an article (because you'll see a PDF or HTML icon below the item’s description). But sometimes, you need to click the Full Text Finder link to see if full text is available. Often it is, but if not you can click the Request this item through Interlibrary Loan link to get the article emailed to you from another library—for free! 

 D  The list of subjects below the item’s citation information offer ideas for alternative search terms you can try.

 E  To see the full item description, hover your mouse over the first of the icons to the right of the title. To save the item to your personal folder (My Library Account at the top of the page) to review later, click the folder icon. (If you’re looking for the auto-generated citation in a particular format—such as APA, MLA, or Chicago—click the item's title and then select the Cite link on the right side of the detailed record page.)

Helpful features on the results page (A through E)