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SOCY 4017: Animals and Society: Get Started

This is a guide for Professor Leslie Irvine's SOCY4017 class.


Here is a link to a poll we will be doing in class: 

Search Strategy

Do background research:  You may not be able to use Wikipedia, newspapers, magazines, etc in your paper, but they can help you find out what the conversations look like. They can tell you the arguments being made on your topic and how people talk about your topic. Background research will also help you to find good search terms. 

Think before you search. Research is fundamentally a thought process. It may seem silly but writing your thoughts down before you start can make searching easier. No matter which search tool you use (databases, Google, etc.), it always helps to have a search strategy. A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. 

Some questions to think about before you start.

Who Cares? Who is going to be writing about your topic and why? 

Where are you going to find the information? There are a lot of different places to find information. Often the best place to look is the library, but not always. 

Who is left out? Who's voice is missing? Is there a way you can bring these voices into your work? Not all who are involved have a voice, or there voice may be not be heard. 

Search Terms: Think of alternative terms, how do scholars think? Here are a few examples that can help you think of more search terms.

  • wildlife
    • synonyms/alternatives = nature, native plants, native animals
    • broader = environment, natural world, animals, etc.
    • narrower = types of wildlife: deer, coyotes, etc.
  • pets
    • synonyms/alternatives = domestic animal, tame animal
    • broader = animals
    • narrower = types of pets: dogs, cats, fish, etc. 

Here are is a worksheet that can help you develop you search terms:

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Allan Van Hoye