SA 150 Introduction to Sociology

Research help

This guide will provide assistance with finding scholarly material to support the research paper assignment.  For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Sociology / Anthropology by email or Ask a librarian.

Services for Distance Education students

Consult the guide Services for Distance Education students if you are off campus.

Assignment: article review

The guide from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill provides useful information about writing a critical review in Sociology:  Sociology

To find a sociological paper on a topic, using "qualitative" research method, see the example under "Sociological Abstracts" under the section "find journal articles" on this guide.

Start Your Research Here - This page gives you an overview of the research process, or in other words how to find reserch materials for an essay.

Example research question

Brainstorm about your research question, write down your question and then underline "key concepts."

How is the British Columbia government handling child poverty?

Start with asking questions.  Each question will assist your search strategy.

  • What kinds of policies have been created to combat child poverty?
  • What kinds of programs or services have been provided for children experiencing poverty?

Create a "Concept Map"

Identify key concepts and create a "Concept Map" (Concept Map Worksheet).

Concept 1:  Child

(child  OR children OR boys OR girls OR youth OR young people)

Concept 2: Poverty

(poverty OR  poor OR low income)

Concept 3: British Columba

 (British Columbia OR  BC)

Concept 4: Government


Concept 5: Policies,  programs or services

(policy OR policies OR programs OR services)

Combine concepts

These combinations of terms can be used in both SFU Catalogue Search and in journal article databasesT

  • govern* AND (child* OR youth) AND (poverty OR poor) AND (BC OR British Columbia)
  • (child* OR youth) AND (policy OR policies OR  program* OR service*) AND (BC OR British Columbia)

Selected encyclopedias and handbooks

Get an overview of a topic by using encyclopedias, handbooks or textbook.  These types of resources identify key authors, theories and  important resources on a topic. 

For more, see side tab, Background information

Find articles in databases

Searching the "Databases for a discipline" is a great strategy to view articles that have been written within the scholarly journals of that discipline.  For help, refer to the How to find journal articles, What is a scholarly journal? [guide], Finding articles: Advanced search techniques [video 3:13 mins]

If full-text of article is not available from within the database, click on the "Get@SFU" to start a search.  If the Library does not provide access, then use the Citation Finder/ILL tab to request a copy from another library (free) through SFU Library's Inter-Library Loans (ILL) service.

    Sociology databases

    Sociological Abstracts -- by the American Sociological Association is the key database for sociology journals

    The strategy, below, show you how to search for your "topic" and also search for research method(s) and for the words, "sociological", "sociology" or "social" as part of the journal's name.  In addition, if you also search for the word(s) "theor*" or the name of a theory (Marxis*), you will narrow you search results to articles which discuss "methods", be in a "sociological" journal, and discuss the theory that was used.

    If you search the database's "Thesaurus"  you will see that there are some words related to research methods which can be assigned to the journal articles by the database.  Examples include: empirical methods, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, scientific methods, methodology (data collection), methodology (data analysis), etc.  These terms can also be used as search terms.

    Search strategy

    (child* OR youth)
    (poverty OR poor)
    (BC OR British Columbia)

    (qualitative OR quantitative OR method*)

    (sociolog* OR social*)        <--- [Limit these words to the "Publication title" field - use pull-down menu on the right hand side of search box]
    (theor* OR Marxis* OR names of other theories)

    Social Sciences Full Text  -- social sciences journals, some may be sociological

    Use similar search strategy as for Sociological Abstracts

    Other databases

    For more, try: Sociology Databases

    Find books

    Library Catalogue search guide

    Search the SFU Library Catalogue: Advanced keyword

    E.g. "How is the British Columbia government handling child poverty?"

    Another example:

    Combine different concepts using AND
    Combine same concepts using OR
    quotation marks to search for a phrase
    Use brackets for synonyms
    Use asterisk (*) for different endings of words

    Use pull-down menu and select, "Source Types" as "Books"

    Note:  For Catalogue Search, when combining concepts, use CAPITAL letters ( "OR", "AND")

    When you find a useful book, click on its "subject" to find more books on the same topic.


    Browse by subject

    You can also "browse by subject" to find  books about a topic.

    Catalogue Search / Browse

    Change "Title" to "Subject" and enter "subject" terms

    You can also enter names of sociologists to find books written about them


    • Statistics Canada
      • Check out their pre-tabulated data tables under "statistics by subject." 
      • Check out the 2016 Census.  Try comparing 2016 Census with figures for Canada and Vancouver CMA.  This data can be downloaded (CSV format) into Excel. 
      • In addition to "data", check out their "Analysis" and other reports (see tabs at the top of the data tables).
      • Publications by subject

    Citing Government documents, Canadian - APA style | MLA style | Chicago style

    Library guides

    Writing help