Research methods for Anthropology and Sociology

This guide provide information on research methods for Anthropology and Sociology.

Contact info

For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Sociology / Anthropology by email ( or Ask a librarian.

Find books on research methods

Search by keyword in the Library Catalogue

Subject headings for books

These selected subject headings will help you to find books on research methods.

To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.

Selected books on research methods - anthropological, ethnographic

Selected books on research methods - Indigenous 

Selected books on research methods - interdisciplinary, sociological

Anthropology and sociology of a particular country

Try browse by "subject", such as "Sociology" and the subheadings, "name of the country", and also the subheading, "periodicals" (for journals)


Search databases that publish scholarly articles in your research area. Research methodologies are included in the text of articles and in the abstracts of article index records so a keyword search, using terms describing your methodology and the focus of your research, should produce relevant results.  List of Databases for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, Databases for Anthropology, Databases and for Sociology.

For example:

participant observation
cell phone* or mobile phone* or cellular telephones or mobile communication

To find discussions of methodological issues, use terms describing your methodology combined with terms like "critique", "review", "assessment", "problem*", "ethic*", "issues", etc.

In addition to the lists of databases above, the Sage and Carma databases (listed, below) focus on research methods.

Sage Research Methods Online 
Search or browse a wide variety of sources on research methods, including ebooks, articles, reference sources, and videos. Also includes research tools and instructional content.

  • Within the database, the Sage "Little Green Books" are "quantitative", while "Sage Little Blue Books" are qualitative.

SAGE Research Methods Cases 
Case studies of research methods applied to real research projects. Researchers explain how they designed their research project, why they chose a particular research method, how they overcame problems and what they might have done differently in hindsight. Cases cover research methods such as focus groups, data collection, ethnography, semi-structured interviews, content analysis, grounded theory, action research and more.

SAGE Research Methods. Datasets
Collection of teaching datasets and instructional guides covering a range of research methods. By picking a dataset and working through the accompanying guides, students can learn data analysis by practicing themselves.

Sage Research Methods. Video
Videos on all aspects of the research process and methods. Also covers practical skills such as project management and writing for publication.

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 
A central repository and dissemination service for machine-readable social science data. ICPSR supplies social science data files for use with statistical software, such as SAS or SPSS.
Resources for students (webinars, guides, etc.) such as: A Guide to Interpreting SPSS Output - How to interpret frequency distributions, crosstabulations, comparison of means tests, correlations, and OLS regressions done in SPSS. Used in teaching undergraduate Introduction to Statistics course.

CARMA Video Library
Advanced training in research methods and data analysis from the Consortium for the Advancement of Research Methods and Analysis.

Selected databases for literature reviews

Annual review of anthropology 
Provides literature reviews of anthropology topics.

Annual review of sociology
Provides literature reviews of sociology topics.

Oxford Bibliographies Online 
Lists key books, articles, and other sources on a wide variety of subjects via annotated and curated bibliographies. An excellent starting point for locating important literature and scholarly sources on a topic. Focuses on the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index 
Dissertations and theses from around the world. Historic and ongoing coverage.  Current theses on your topic can provide you with both research methods and useful bibliographies.

Selected journals for research methods

GIS / Mapping

Guide: Using mapping/GIS for community-based research, participatory projects, and equity/diversity/social justice

If you don't identify yourself as a "GIS researcher", but interested in using GIS/mapping for community-based research, participatory projects, and equity/diversity topics, this guide is a good resource to get you started. 

The guide brings together three (interrelated) streams of applications of GIS: community-based research, participatory projects, and equity/diversity related issues. At the core, these usage examples all try to expand the reach of GIS, many created by "non GIS experts", for a larger audience, and tapping into new open-source, web-based technologies.  

Writing for anthropology and sociology


Books on writing process

Web guides

For more, try "Citing & writing"