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 databases

  • 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 loan service.

Sociology databases

  • ProQuest Sociology Collection - for issues related to class, gender, racism, sexuality and sexism and theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and policy science. For information of immigrants, racism, society, structural barriers, migration, and refugees

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)

Other databases

  • Social Sciences Full Text  -- social sciences journals, some may be sociological
  • Social Theory - full-text of documents from prominent social sciences theorists.
  • Bibliography of Indigenous Peoples in North America - Academic articles and Indigenous news sources.  Covers all aspects of Native North American culture, history, and life from the sixteenth century to the present.
  • CBCA Complete  - focus on Canada.  Contains scholarly journal articles, trade publications, dissertations, books, newspapers and and magazines.
  • Canada Commons (formerly, Canadian Electronic Library from desLibris) - for public policy documents from Canadian institutes, think-tanks and research groups.
  • Canadian Newsstream -- covers the major Canadian daily newspapers.
  • Canadian Research Index -- Canadian government publications.

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?"

Other topics

Combine different concepts using AND
Combine same concepts using OR
Use 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.


Selected books

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
  • BC Statistics 

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

Library guides

Presentation skills

Writing help