Social sciences and philosophy


Searching for scientific literature

The search for scientific literature starts with defining your search terms, conjoining them into a search statement, and choosing the right databases for your search – in other words, by outlining your search strategy. The main types of scientific literature utilised in social sciences and philosophy are peer-reviewed articles and scholarly books (monographs, edited collections). Hence, the best places to find scientific sources are article and book databases.


Search terms and statements

When you are searching for articles and books in databases, the main thing to remember is that exact search matches require exact search terms. Usually, the best search terms are the concepts and terminology of your own field of study.

You can look up concepts from encyclopedias, reference books, and handbooks. Consulting the reference works of your own field – or social sciences more broadly – gives you keywords for your search statement. In addition, you will find definitions of concepts, suggestions for related concepts, useful background information, and quite often, advice on key scholars, books, and articles related to the topic.



In addition to the concepts of your field of study, it is a good idea to use subject terms listed in controlled vocabularies. With subject terms you can conduct subject searches in databases, or you can use them as keywords and include them in your search statement. Some controlled vocabularies are general and interdisciplinary, while some are specific to a field, and some are embedded in scientific databases.


Databases focusing on a specific field of study often contain their own controlled vocabularies. These are usually called a thesaurus, subjects, or subject headings/terms.


When you have determined your search terms (keywords and subject terms), you can combine them into a search statement by using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), phrase search (with quotation marks), and truncation (usually with an asterisk).

Search statement tells the database what you want to find. If you need help in formulating a search statement, check the Library Tutorial for assistance.



Scientific articles are indexed – and often their full-text versions are stored – in scientific databases. A relatively safe method to identify scientific articles in databases is to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles (depending on the database, select peer-reviewed, refereed, original article & review, or scholarly journals). Each database is a bit different, so it is important to check the guides and FAQs to see what kind of search tools and refinement options are at your disposal.

Some databases are focused on a specific field of study. When you are looking for articles published in the academic journals of your own field, such databases are the best place to start. If your topic is inter- or multidisciplinary, you can conduct searches also in the databases of adjacent fields, or you can choose a multidisciplinary database and limit your search to, for example, to publications in social sciences.







  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse
  • SAGE Journals
  • Scopus – you can limit your search to social sciences by selecting Refine results > Subject area > Social sciences
  • Web of Science – you can limit your search to social sciences by selecting Search in > Web of Science Core Collection – Editions: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)--1956-present
  • If you are looking for articles published in Finland, you can conduct searches on the "Finnish articles" tab in JYKDOK (Basic search / Advanced search > Finnish articles). This tab combines articles published on the platform, ARTO database indexing Finnish journals, as well as articles archived in the Jyväskylä University Digital Repository (JYX).


JYKDOK and Google Scholar comprise both peer-reviewed and non-scholarly sources, while some mono- and multidisciplinary databases comprise, for example, primary sources, trade journals, and magazines. Library Tutorial gives you tips on how to assess whether a source you have found is scientific and reliable.



In JYKDOK, you will find both printed and e-books when you conduct your search on the "Books, journals, databases" tab (Basic search / Advanced search > Books, journals, databases). You will find guidance on using e-books and other electronic library resources on the Jyväskylä University Library webpage.You can also search e-books directly from e-book databases.




Open access sources

In many databases, scientific journals and books are behind a paywall. However, the number of open access publications grown all the time. You can search these freely available and accessible publications from the following indexes and search engines:


Research methods

Searching JYKDOK is the most expedient way of finding guides and handbooks on research methods. Another useful resource is the Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO). SRMO contains, for example, reference materials, videos, and research tools.


Reports and statistics

In addition to scientific articles and books, research in social sciences often makes use of reports and statistics compiled and published by research institutes and agencies.




Research data

In case you are not collecting your own primary data (for example, through interviews, experiments, observations, or surveys) and you have no access to unpublished datasets (for example, through collaboration with a research project), you can utilise archived or published sources in your thesis.





  • JYKDOK – search all newspaper and magazine subscriptions of the Jyväskylä University Library
  • Finna / ARTO – collection of Finnish articles. You can also search ARTO through JYKDOK (Basic search / Advanced search > Finnish articles), bearing in mind that this search will also yield research articles from and JYX platforms as well
  • National Library of Finland / digital materials – collections of (historical) digitised Finnish newspapers and journals, some published in English
  • ProQuest Central – contains full text articles from international newspapers (Source type > Newspapers)
  • PressReader





You can search for theses and dissertations completed in the University of Jyväskylä in the Thesis search portal. Theses completed in most other Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences can be searched through You can browse and search theses completed in European universities through the DART-Europe E-theses Portal.


OSC is here to help you

The Open Science Centre (OSC) provides assistance in information seeking, data management, and reference management.

  • Study independently: a guide to systematic information seeking – Library Tutorial
  • Attend a course or training: more information on the Open Science education webpage
  • Contact us: If your question relates to information seeking especially in social sciences and philosophy, please mention your field / major in the email
  • Book an appointment: when you are doing your Master's thesis or dissertation, you can book a personal consultation via HelpJYU platform