Skip to Main Content

Social Justice

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are values we hold deeply within Academic Library Services.

We acknowledge that simply believing in these values is not enough to create change. Our library recognizes that it is through our collective action toward a shared vision for a better future that substantive change will be realized.

Academic Library Services is the intellectual heart of East Carolina University. We connect people to information and empower their lifelong learning by developing robust collections, superior services, and people-friendly spaces.

Read our library’s Statement Against Racism and Social Injustice

Getting started with your research

The library's collection includes books, articles, films, and a wide range of other publication types.  Which publication type is best for your research will depend on the question you want to investigate.

Books can be terrific for providing depth and context to your question.  If your topic unfamiliar to you?  The background information you find in a good, relevant book may be ideal for your needs.  To find books, use the "One Search" search box on the library home page.  Once you have done an initial search, you can limit your results to only "books/ebooks" or to "physical books from the catalog," whatever your preference.

Articles--whether from scholarly, newspaper, or popular publications--can be found in either "One Search" or in the library databases. Find "best bet" databases for getting started based on your subject area below.

Search String Builder

Build a Sample Search String

Try using the tool below to put together a good search "string" for your first search.  Under "Concept 1," "Concept 2," and "Concept 3," type in three major concepts from your research question.  These are the major concepts you need to see represented in any of the articles and books in your search results.  After you've identified those core concepts, we will think about synonyms, alternate spellings, and different vocabulary that authors might be using to express the same ideas.


  Concept 1 AND Concept 2 AND Concept 3
List your core concepts here    

Can you think of any synonyms or alternate spellings for this concept?  If so, type them in below.


Can you think of any synonyms or alternate spellings for this concept?  If so, type them in below.

Can you think of any synonyms or alternate spellings for this concept?  If so, type them in below.

List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

You can use single words, or phrases with quotation marks,
or truncated words with the *










Now copy and paste the above Search Strategy into a database search box!

*The Search Strategy Builder was developed by the University of Arizona Libraries(CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).

What database works best for your topic?

Ask yourself what types of professionals are writing about your topic.  For example, is your topic relevant to educators?  If so, an education database might contain helpful articles.  

With some topics you may want to search more than one body of literature.  For example, if you were writing about environmental justice on college campuses, you may want to consult the environmental sciences literature AND the education literature.  

Below are some promising databases for getting started based on the broad area of your topic.  See which databases are most relevant to your research question.  Are you unfamiliar with databases and want to learn more about what they are and what they contain?  Here's a quick video.

Education themes

Education literature covers a broad area, from early childhood to higher education.   Education themes are generally best searched in education databases.  Two of the best are listed below.  You will find coverage of topics like:

  • transformative learning
  • social justice
  • service learning
  • institutional racism
  • counseling

Social Science themes

Many of the themes found in The Person You Mean to Be center on the individual's role in society and thus are well-represented in social science databases.  Below are three large and popular social science databases.  Examples of topics covered include:

  • empathy and compassion
  • social justice
  • racism and racial injustice
  • hate groups

Business and Management themes

Business literature can feature case studies, content on people management, articles about organizational policies, and much more.  Consider searching the business databases if your topic touches on:

  • business ethics
  • human resources
  • implicit bias
  • advertising

Science and Technology themes