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SOC 302: Research Methods: Home

One

Join the Conversation!

Where to go to find scholarly literature (articles, studies, dissertations and books) in the field of sociology.

Two

Speak the Language!

1) Experiment with different keywords to find articles on your topic. Use synonyms and related concepts, for example (teenage* OR youth OR adolescent*) (shooting* OR violence) (lonliness OR isolation), until you find articles that relate to your topic

2) Make note of the subject they have been given in the database.

3) Now use the specific subjects to search more precisely:

 

 

 

Three

Primary or Review? Know the Difference!

Review articles summarize the current state of the research on a topic by bringing together all the important and current findings. They do not present new original data or studies, but attempt to gather the scholarship that exists. They are a great way to see where the scholarly conversation is now. They may present divergent views on a issue. 

Click here for more information on searching Annual Reviews in Sociology.

Four

Keep Track!

Create your own UN/PW account in one of the utilities below to maintain a list of articles you read. RefWorks and Zotero will format your references in American Sociological Association (ASA) style.

Click here for info on using RefWorks

Five

Time Travel With Citations

PAST:

Look at the reference lists in the articles you have gathered to see whom they have cited. Do several of your articles cite the same study, book or journal article? Are there certain names that appear over and over? These are important authors and works in the scholarly conversation. They are worth finding, even if they are 10 or 20 years old. You can trace the evolution of thinking and scholarship by looking them up. Sometimes the reference list becomes more important than the content of the article itself!

FUTURE:

How many times have the articles you gathered been cited by others? This can be an indication of how central the article is to the scholarly conversation about this topic. (Remember, if an article is very recent it is too soon for it to cited by other researchers.)

This is how it looks in Sociological Abstracts:

In Google Scholar you can find "cited by" here:

 

Six

Evaluate!

Metrics and impact factors refer to how important journals are in a scholarly field. They can be an indicator of the reliability and importance of the information you are reading. Metrics and impact factors are just one of many ways you can evaluate information. 

Click here for a Journal Citation Reports tutorial on finding impact factors.(Coming Soon)