Sociology Research Guide

This research guide provides a list of resources and strategies to help you do research for suitable materials for sociology. The resources covered in this guide include some that are available through the Cypress College Library, and others that are available on the open web.

Your research strategy might include some or all of the following:

  • Use reference sources to find an overview of your topic, or to find general background information on your topic
  • Use the library’s online catalog to find books on your topic
  • Use the library’s licensed databases to find journal, magazine, newspaper, and other types of articles on your topic
  • Use the internet to find credible web sources on your topic

How do I find an overview or general background information about my topic?

Reference sources are a great place to start a research project. You can use reference sources to find definitions of terms that might be unfamiliar to you. You can also find topic overviews, background information, context, and bibliographies for further reading on your topic. Listed below are a few of these sources available through the library:

Encyclopedia of Relationships Across the Lifespan
Reference Collection (HM132 .T83)

Encyclopedia of Sociology
Reference Collection (HM425 .E5)
Also available as an e-Book

Encyclopedia of Violence: Origins, Attitudes, Consequences
Reference Collection (HM291 .D4857)

Encyclopedic Dictionary of Sociology
Reference Collection (HM17 .E5)

HarperCollins Dictionary of Sociology
Reference Collection (HM17 .J37)

International Encyclopedia of Sociology
Reference Collection (HM17 .I53)

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
Reference Collection (H40 .A2 I5, v. 1-16)

For finding statistics, try some of the following sources:

Datapedia of the United States, 1790-2000
Reference Collection (HA202 .K87)

Historical Statistics of the United States
Reference Collection (HA202 .H57)

Statistical Abstract of the United States
Reference Collection (HA202 .S7)

How do I find books about my topic?

There are several ways to look for books. One is to browse the shelves. The general call number range for Sociology is HM–so you could come to the library and go straight to the shelves and browse for books.

A more efficient way to look for books is to search the library’s online catalog.

Try doing a keyword search. Type your search terms in the text box, set the search to “Keyword Relevance Search,” and click “Search.” If you got too many results from the keyword search, try doing a subject search. You can try your own subject word (has to be an official Library of Congress Subject Heading), or try one of the subject headings listed below.

  • Crime Sociological aspects
  • Death Social aspects
  • Educational sociology
  • Information society
  • Knowledge, Sociology of
  • Religion and sociology
  • Social ethics
  • Social problems
  • Socialization
  • Sociology, Urban
  • Urban policy

How do I find journal, magazine, newspaper, and other types of articles on my topic?

To find articles, use one of the databases listed below:

CQ Researcher—online journal that provides reports on many social topics

EBSCOhost—use “Academic Search Complete” and “MasterFILE Complete” for articles from scholarly journals as well as popular magazines and newspapers

Gale Virtual Reference—for information about a person or a topic

Literature Resource Center—for biographies of authors, criticism, articles, work overviews, bibliographies and more

US Newsstream (ProQuest)—articles from current newspapers

Opposing Viewpoints—different points of view in discussions centering on key controversial issues

ProQuest Newspapers—articles from the LA Times, 1985-present

ProQuest: New York Times Historical—articles from the New York Times, 1851-2006

How do I find credible web sources on my topic?

In this section, “web pages” means the “open web”—websites anyone can access—not web-based research tools like the databases that the library provides. The open web has a lot of great things to offer, but not all the sources found there are appropriate for academic research. How can you determine if the sources you’ve found are credible? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who created the site?
  • Can you determine if the author is an expert in the field?
  • What kind of an audience was the site created for? General adult population? Scientists? 3rd graders?
  • Can you determine if there is any kind of bias expressed in the site? Is the site trying to sell you a particular point of view?
  • When was the web page last revised?
  • What is the date range of the materials covered in the site?
  • What other resources (print & non-print) are available in this area?
  • What is the relative value of the web site in comparison to the range of information resources available on this topic?

You can try looking for relevant web sites on your own using subject directories like InfoMine, Open Directory Project, and ipl2. As well, you can try some of the web sites listed below:

American Sociological Association
The Internet site of the major U.S. association of professional sociologists provides a number of useful links, including a page, “What is Sociology?,” and the profession’s code of ethics.

Academic Info: Sociology
Users will find a compendium of links to data archives, discussion groups, and educational facilities. Includes basic online reference materials.

Social Science Information Gateway: Sociology
Provides access to hundreds of sociology sources on the Internet. Each source has been evaluated and categorized both by type (e.g., articles, databases, discussion groups) and by sub-field within sociology (e.g., sociology of adolescence, sociology of children, sociology of economics, sociology of education).

WWW Virtual Library: Sociology
Includes links to organizations, journals, research centers, and academic departments.

How do I get more help finding sources for my topic?

If you feel like you need help getting started, finding more detailed materials, or if you have any questions in general, please feel free to come to the library and ask a reference librarian for help.

If you have trouble accessing this page and need help, contact a librarian at the reference desk at (714) 484-7069.