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Autism Resources for Parents: ProQuest

This pathfinder will share an annotated list of reference sources, indexes, databases, and other content to help users begin to conduct research on the topic of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Social Science Premium Collection (SSPC), ProQuest

Social Science Premium Collection, ProQuest

ProQuest provides access to twenty-six primary databases mainly in the sciences and social sciences. One of the most relevant databases for the context of exploring autism, is the database Social Sciences Premium Collection. ProQuest provides hundreds of abstract/index and full-text collections available through content discovery. ProQuest content is discoverable through Ex Libris Primo. SSP is available through ProQuest’s main website and via the UK Libraries database directory. ProQuest offers users the ability to create accounts and customize their experience, create folders, manage alerts, search all of the fields of the record, search the entire contents of the database by keyword, save search queries, export to reference management tools, and access the database off campus via EZproxy. SSP offers a useful thesaurus, perpetual help links, and a list of subject headings which help users understand controlled vocabulary, formulate effective search strategies, and increase the chance of locating the appropriate terms in a search. SSP offers numerous ways to refine a search including by search fields (title, author, and subject), publication, full text, peer-reviewed, publication date, source types, publisher, and language. ProQuest provides customization including page options like how many items should be displayed per page.

SSCP Keywords

SSCP Keywords

For this example, we'll refine the search to documents from 2000 to present.

From the Advanced Search page, the default search field is "Anywhere" which signifies keyword anywhere. Some examples of Keywords that might be relevant for families seeking more information about their child's autism diagnosis include:

Autis* (*broadens a search and retrieves results for autism and autistic)

Diagnos* (*broadens a search by retrieving results for diagnose and diagnosis)

Parent* (*broadens a search by retrieving results for parent, parents, and parenting)

Child* (*broadens a search by retrieving results for child and children)

Famil* (*broadens a search by retrieving results for family or families)


These keywords can be combined with Boolean operators. Autis* AND diagnos* AND child* AND parent* AND famil*

This combined keyword search resulted more than 10,000 results. Each time you run a search, Related Searches displays suggested subjects that you may consider searching on if you find that you are dissatisfied with your current search results. The suggested subjects are related to your current keywords and pull directly from the subject field.

You can modify the search to search keyword "anywhere except full text" which significantly narrowed the search results to 175 results.

SSCP Thesauri Descriptors/Subject Headings

SSCP Thesauri Descriptors/Subject Headings

ProQuest offers useful thesauri and a list of subject headings which help users understand controlled vocabulary, formulate effective search strategies, and increase the chance of locating the appropriate terms in a search. In this example, we'll use the thesaurus to locate the controlled vocabulary to obtain documents on the topic of autism and the context of parenting a child on the autism spectrum. 

ProQuest offers a variety of useful tips and pages including the ProQuest Help center. Additionally, ProQuest offers pages on How to use the Thesaurus and Thesaurus page. Multiple Thesauri are available for SSCP. With a thesaurus open, users can search for subject terms, browse all subject terms, and add one or more subject terms to a search.

The thesaurus shows relationships between terms such as related terms and hierarchical arrangements such as broader terms or narrower terms. Many subjects also have associated scope notes.

I chose ASSIA Thesaurus and searched "Autism spectrum disorder" which provided me with 0 subject results but provided me with other related terms. I can choose to select one of the related terms to search. I selected "autism" which provided me with a broader term of "communication disorders" and a narrower term of "infantile autism." For this example, I chose "autism" and added it to my search.

Then, I can add another subject like "diagnosis" to search both MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Autism") AND MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Diagnosis"). Using the thesaurus to use the controlled vocabulary quickly enables users to search with the correct terms to maximize accuracy and relevancy.

SSCP Instructions

SSCP Additional Instructions

ProQuest offers tutorials, LibGuides, and other helpful resources to improve search strategies.