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SOCY 3201 Sociological Research Methods: Find Research

This is the course guide for Matthew Brown's SOCY3201 Sociological Research Methods class.

Research Process

When searching for materials it is best to think about your topic and the research process from event to publication. It takes time for these publications to be written and for recent events you may not find books or scholarly articles.

If you are researching a recent event, do not despair! Instead think more broadly, for example while there may not be a scholarly article on the recent executive order on immigration, this is not the first time that policies around immigration have changed and there will be articles written covering the broader topic. 


Popular Scholarly
written by journalists, not experts written by scholars
can include glossy photos includes works cited
usually includes advertisements journal is peer-reviewed
intended for general audience intended for academic audience


Sociology Portal

This page links to all the sociology databases and guides, but for this class I would recommend starting with:

Some tips on choosing articles:

  • Currency
    Peer-reviewed articles take from six months to three years to be published, if you are researching a current topic you are going to find fewer peer-reviewed articles.
  • Using Citations
    Citations can be a very useful tool in two ways when conducting research. If an article has been cited many times, that can help you determine if it is important to the studies in that area. In addition, if you find one article that covers your topic well you can use the citations in that article to find additional information. Google Scholar enables quick checks of citation count and links out to the citations themselves.
  • Evaluating Sources
    Here are a few tips I use to quickly evaluate a source:
    • Source: Where was this published? Is this a reliable and relevant source? For example, while for some topics the New York Times might be a great source, if what I am looking for is an in-depth scholarly source that is not where I want to start. 
    • Timeliness: When was this written? Is the information still relevant and useful? 
    • Author: Who wrote it? What is their role and authority on the issue? This is often the best place to go when searching in broader databases to see if this is written from a sociological perspective.
    • Audience: Who was this written for and does it have a particular point of view? Within publications you can have both in-depth research articles and opinion pieces, which is this and does that viewpoint match with what you are looking for?

Chinook Classic, advanced search

When searching the catalog, which it is not full-text, it is useful to use a broader search to start. Remember "or" expands your results, where "and" reduces the results. All the links below are in Chinook Classic, if you prefer to use Chinook Plus you need to put an | in place of the OR and remove the "and" between your ().

See this (alcohol abuse) AND (undergraduates)) versus (alcohol abuse OR alcoholism OR drinking) and (undergraduates OR college students OR university students) to see the difference adding in terms causes.

Some tips on choosing books:

  • Government resources
    When researching wars you will often find materials from the US government in our catalog. Depending on your topic these can contain a wealth of information. Hearings, which will generally contain the word "hearing" after the ":" can be a wealth of information on the rhetoric of opposing sides. Hearings generally invite viewpoints from each side of the argument and contain not only written statements, but also the Q&A between the members of congress and the attendees.
  • Browse by Call Number or Subject Heading
    When searching in Chinook Classic (the link above), you have the ability to browse by call number and subject heading. When you find a book that looks useful you can use both these options to help you see if there are other similar resources in the catalog both in print and online.

Combine Search Words

AND  link words by AND to search for all words in the same resource

OR  link words by OR to search for one word or another (instead of both/all words)

NOT  to eliminate results with a certain term

“Quotations” – add quotations to a group of two or more words to search for the exact phrase