CRIM 110 Introduction to Criminal Justice: Writing & Search Tips

Construct a successful search

  1. Do not write an entire sentence into a database's search box.  Explain your topic to someone in three words or less.  Multi-word terms that are a single idea count as one word, just put them in quotation marks (e.g. "criminal justice").  These are your search terms.
  2. Search terms that represent different aspects of your topic (e.g. women and prison) should be entered into different search boxes when available.  Otherwise, these terms can be combined using the word AND (e.g. women AND prison).
  3. Search terms that are synonyms or related terms (e.g. women or females) should be entered into the same search box and combined using the word OR (e.g. women OR females).  If multiple search boxes are not available, group related terms in parentheses and combine with the word OR.

Single search box example:

Multiple search box example:

Search Using Google Scholar

Sometimes it is helpful to search Google Scholar is also helpful. If we have the database article, it will show up as an RIT Library link, and you can read the article. Sometimes we do not have the article, but you can request it for free via our Interlibrary Loan Services. Set your library preferences in Google Scholar. Click on library links, and check off RIT or Rochester Institute of Technology to access our database articles using Google Scholar.

Google Scholar Search

APA/MLA Citations

 APA formatting of legal cases can be found at Cornell. MLA formatting of legal cases can be found via BibGuru.

APA Example

Cite the name of the case (italicized) and the year of the decision. In-text example.

  • (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 1966)

Reference List:

  • Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections. 383 U.S. 663. 1966. URL


Supreme Court decisions are published in United States Reports, abbreviated "U.S." 383 U.S. 663 refers to volume 383 of United States Reports, page 663.

For additional examples, and for names/abbreviations for lower courts, see Cornell Legal Information Institute, Basic Legal Citation, Reporters & Courts.

MLA Example

In-text example
("Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections" 663)

Works Cited List
Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections. 383 U.S. 663. 1966. URL.

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